Preparing for your operation

If you’re scheduled to have surgery to repair damage to ligaments, tendons or joints, or to replace a joint, here are some things to consider before you go in for surgery. Being prepared will help to make the experience less stressful.

What you need to find out from your consultant

Things you should ask your consultant about before the surgery are:

  • How long before the operation should I stop eating and drinking?
  • Do I need to stop any of my medication before my operation, and for how long before?
  • Will my operation require an overnight stay in hospital?
  • Will I need to stay in hospital for more than one night?

Preparing for post surgery

You may need to arrange for someone to bring you to and take you from the hospital if:

  • You aren’t allowed to weight bear through the operated leg;
  • Your arm will be in a sling
  • You have had general anaesthetic or been sedated and won’t be able to drive.

If you live alone, it might be advisable for you to organise for a family member, a friend or a carer to be with you on your return home. They can help with washing, dressing and cooking, as you might be unable to perform these tasks for yourself post surgery.

It’s often useful to pre-prepare a few meals or buy ready-made meals for after the surgery, to make life easier after the operation, especially if you won’t be able to bear your full weight or can’t use both arms.

What to expect at your pre-operative assessment

You’ll need to provide certain information prior to surgery to ensure that your operation, stay and discharge go smoothly. This applies whether the treatment is carried out on the NHS or privately.

You’ll either attend a pre-op appointment or be contacted for a pre-operative assessment which is normally carried out by a nurse. They will ask about your general health, past medical history, medication you are taking and home circumstances.

They will also perform blood tests using test and swab. This is to ensure that you don’t have any other medical conditions which could prevent you from undergoing surgery. They’ll also do a pregnancy test if you’re a woman of childbearing age.

What you need to bring to hospital

Depending on your operation and how long you’re staying in hospital, these are items that you may need during your stay:

  • Nightdress or pyjamas
  • Clothes to wear during the day (loose, comfortable clothes that make it as easy as possible for the consultant, physiotherapist or nurse to access your wound are best)
  • Slippers
  • Toiletries such as shampoo, shower gel, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.
  • A pen and notepad to write down any questions you wish to ask the hospital staff and on which to note down any additional information not provided on information leaflets.
  • Books, magazines, iPad, Kindle, knitting - anything that will help keep you entertained during your hospital stay, especially if you have to stay more than one night.
  • Medication that you take regularly.

What to do if you need to cancel your operation

Occasionally personal circumstances can mean that you are no longer able to attend your surgery.

If this happens to you and your surgery is taking place in an NHS hospital, you will need to contact the staff in admissions or your consultant’s secretary, so that they can assist with rescheduling your surgery.

For a private operation, you will need to contact the consultant’s secretary who will inform your surgeon and the private hospital.

If you become unwell, even with a cough, cold or slight fever a few days before your operation, it’s worthwhile contacting your surgeon via his secretary to ensure that your operation can go ahead.

Read our article in Sebra News W2 on optimising your recovery.