Surgical Questions and Answers
Frequently asked questions for people undergoing orthopedic surgery

Q: How long will I be in the hospital after surgery?

A: If you underwent cervical spine surgery, the general estimated stay time at the hospital is over night. A person who has undergone lumbar spine surgery usually stays in the hospital one to two (1-2) days.

Q: When can I begin to walk after surgery?

A: You may begin walking the same day as surgery if it is not uncomfortable.

Q: How long after surgery does it take for the bone to heal?

A: Generally, it takes six to eight (6-8) weeks after surgery for the bones in your spine to heal.

Q: Does the hardware ever need to be removed?

A: No, the hardware does not need to be removed. 

Q: Should I stop smoking before surgery?

A: You should stop smoking at least six (6) weeks before surgery and during the healing process

Q: Will I need a blood transfusion for surgery?

A: No, a blood transfusion is not necessary for surgery

Q: When do I need to stop taking my medications prior to surgery?

A: ANY and ALL medications MUST be stopped midnight before the day of surgery. All anti-inflammatory medication (ie, Advil, Plavix, Motrin, etc.) needs to stop ten (10) days before surgery.

Q: How soon after surgery can I drive?

A: A patient that has undergone lumbar spine surgery may be able to drive as early as seven (7) days after surgery.

Q: Should I be worried if the incision itches after surgery?

A: Itching around the incision after surgery is normal and actually indicates that the body is healing itself. HOWEVER, you should call Dr. Earle IMMEDIATELY if the incision is experiencing one of the following conditions: redness, swelling, heat, and/or development of a puss buildup. 

Q: What if I have a fever after surgery?

A: If you have a fever and your temperature is GREATER THAN 101 degrees, then you should call Dr. Earle immediately.

Q: What if the incision is draining?

A: If the drainage is a serous and pinkish color, that is ok because it indicates that the incision is healing. If the drainage is bright red or resembles mucous, please contact your doctor immediately for further instruction. If there are red streaks emanating from the incision, please contact your doctor immediately for further instruction. 

Q: Do I need to change the bandage after surgery?

A: You may change the bandage as often as necessary after surgery. If the wound is not draining, then the bandage is not necessary because the incision is covered with dermoplast, a pain relieving aerosal spray.

Q: Can I take a bath/shower after surgery?

A: Yes you can but do not scrub the incision. It is ok if the incision gets wet because it is covered by dermoplast.

Q: I still have leg pain after surgery. Is that normal?

A: Yes, it is normal to have leg pain after surgery as the nerves are waking up. It is comparable to when your hand falls asleep. It is not abnormal to have leg pain within the six (6) months after surgery.

Q: What if I have leg pain that originates and is localized to my calf?

A: Call your doctor immediately because a blood clot may be forming and the necessary preventive steps need to be taken.

Q: I can not stand my pain anymore. What do I do?

A: DO NOT take more medications unless prescribed by your doctor. Call your doctor if necessary. Use heat and cold as prescribed by your doctor. Recognize that the pain will abate; however, it may not be immediately. While waiting for your surgery date, if your pain increases SIGNIFICANTLY, call your doctor for further instruction. If you lose bowel and/or bladder control, call your doctor AND go to the emergency room immediately.