The field of neurosurgery focuses on surgery of the brain and spinal cord. If a neurosurgeon deems that surgery is necessary, there are many steps patients can take to prepare for the surgery to help pave the way toward a successful outcome.
There are several steps you can take to prepare for your neurosurgical procedure:
- Get the appropriate medical clearance. Your neurosurgeon may ask you to see your internist (or a specialist such as a cardiologist) to get medically cleared for surgery. They do this in order to reduce the risk of anesthesia-related complications by identifying and optimally treating medical conditions.
- Follow hygiene instructions. Shower before coming to the hospital, shampoo your hair, and brush your teeth. Do not swallow the water when you brush your teeth. Do not apply lotions, perfume, or makeup.
- Ask about tobacco and alcohol restrictions. If you smoke, stop or at least reduce your smoking. No smoking after midnight. Do not drink any alcohol for 24 hours before surgery.
- Be aware of any eating or drinking restrictions. Have nothing to eat for at least 8 hours prior to your scheduled surgery time – including gum, candy, coffee, or any kind of food. You may have clear liquids (water, clear juices, clear soda, black coffee or tea without cream or sugar) up to 4 hours before your surgery time. If you consume food less than 8 hours and liquids less than 4 hours prior to surgery, you may put yourself in danger, which can result in cancellation of your surgery. Your anesthesiologist may call you the night before your surgery and gives you different instructions – be sure to follow those instructions.
- Discontinue certain medications. Some medications can affect blood clotting or interfere with anesthesia, including over-the-counter medicines like aspirin. Medications that may cause complications include:
- Aspirin: Aspirin should be discontinued a minimum of 7 days prior to surgery.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): All NSAIDs such as ibuprofen should be discontinued a minimum of 5 days before surgery.
- Vitamins, supplements, herbs: Many herbal medications and supplements may increase bleeding and/or interact with medications used for anesthesia. Discontinue these medications for a minimum of 7 days prior to surgery.
- Prepare needed legal documents. Although the chances of a serious complication are low with most neurosurgeries, surgery of any type carries risks. Consider having a discussion with family members about your wishes in the unlikely event that something unexpected may occur and you are not able to make decisions for yourself. All patients having surgery should have a living will or advance directive completed prior to surgery.
- Enlist help. If you are planning to go home on the day of surgery and you receive general anesthesia or any form of sedation or intravenous medication, you MUST have someone to drive you home after your operation. It is recommended that you have a responsible adult stay with you for the first 24 hours, as you may feel dizzy, lightheaded, and sleepy for the first day after your surgery.
- Educate yourself. The prospect of having neurosurgery can be frightening. However, knowledge is power; therefore, knowing what to expect can help lessen anxiety by reducing your fear of the unknown. Sit down with your doctor or nurse and have them answer any questions you may have about the pre- and postoperative process. Being prepared can also help alleviate stress.
The experts at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery offer both surgical and nonsurgical treatment of intracranial and spinal disorders. They have served patients with advanced microsurgical treatments for a wide variety of neurological conditions for over 15 years. Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery is dedicated to making a difference in people’s lives. Call (303) 790-1800 to request an appointment today