Preparation For Outpatient Decompression Surgery

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Preparation for surgery helps keep the patient safe and increases the likelihood of a successful operation. Pressure on the spinal canal is often a result of natural aging and the development of arthritis. In some cases, a healthcare provider will recommend cervical decompression surgery. Medication histories, pregnancy tests, and lifestyle changes can help a patient prepare for successful surgery.

3 tips when preparing for surgery

Preparation will begin a week or two before the scheduled operation. Presurgical testing will include blood tests, x-rays, and further diagnostic testing. The patient will be required to fill out various medical and consent forms the day of the surgery. Read on for more tips to prepare for the appointment.

1. Know all medications

Patients should be prepared to provide a list of all drugs and natural health supplements. Medication histories can prevent unwanted drug reactions and help keep the patient safe. Natural health supplements may seem innocent enough but can interact with anesthesia and increase bleeding risks. Medication histories should include all past and present drugs, both prescribed and over-the-counter. Doctors may request that patients stop taking blood thinners a week or two before surgery.

2. Take a pregnancy test

Almost all surgeries require women of child-bearing years to take a pregnancy test. Blood pregnancy tests are more accurate than pharmacy-based versions. Surgery during pregnancy is often avoided to reduce the risk of complications to both the mother and child. Elective surgeries such as cosmetic procedures are not performed on pregnant women. The developing fetus is sensitive to all medications and anesthesia took by the mother. Though anesthesia medications used for surgery are safe, and there is a low risk to the baby, surgery during pregnancy is avoided whenever possible.

3. Stop smoking and drinking

Smoking, chewing tobacco, and alcohol can cause adverse medical complications. Smoking inhibits the lungs and heart from working correctly, increasing the need for a ventilator post-surgery. The risk of developing pneumonia also increases. Smoking reduces blood flow, thereby slowing down the recovery time. Alcohol weakens the immune systems and slows down the recovery period. Alcohol is also a blood thinner and affects the bodyís ability to clot during and post-surgery. Increasing the risk of excessive blood loss. If too much alcohol is still in the patientís system, the body wonít be able to metabolize the anesthesia medications properly.

What is cervical decompression surgery?

Cervical decompression surgery, also known as a laminectomy, is performed to alleviate pressure on the spine. Bone protrusions cause most of the pressure within the spinal canal. The overgrowths/bone spurs are common in individuals with arthritis. When the spinal cord or spinal nerves become compressed, the patient can experience pain, numbness, tingling in the arms and legs, balance problems, weakness, and incontinence. Herniated disks are a common reason for cervical decompression surgery. Conservative treatments for spinal compression include physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication. If conditions fail to improve with the alternative methods, surgery may be necessary. Most cervical decompression surgeries are performed in an outpatient setting, meaning patients return home the same day.

Tips for a successful surgery

The patient should be prepared to provide a list of all medications and health supplements so that the doctor can avoid unnecessary drug-to-drug interactions. Women will be required to take a pregnancy test. Drinking and smoking can prolong the bodyís recovery time. Communication and preparation are vital for successful surgery. Speaking with the surgeon about the risks and benefits of surgery will help the patient make an informed decision.

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Dwight Tyndall, MD, FAAOS

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