What if I test positive for Staph/MRSA?

If you test positive for staph, the office will call and give you special instructions that include taking a series of preoperative showers with antiseptic soap (Hibiclens/Bactoshield) and applying an antibiotic ointment to your nose. The office will call in a prescription for two percent Mupirocin nasal ointment (Bactroban).

  • Dab a small amount of ointment, about the size of a match head, onto a Q-tip.
  • Apply ointment to the inside front part of both nostrils.
  • Press the nostrils closed to spread the ointment throughout the nostrils.
  • Do this twice a day (morning and before bed) for five days.
  • Begin preoperative showers protocol five days before your surgical procedure is scheduled.
  • Follow instructions as outlined in the patient education preoperative showers section.
    • Bathe or shower every day with Hibiclens/Bactoshield.
    • On the morning of your surgical procedure, shower or bathe again with Hibiclens/Bactoshield.
    • You should have completed six showers or baths with this antiseptic.
  • Use the enclosed grid (Appendix 7*) to keep track of your preoperative skin cleansing schedule and bring it to the hospital on the day of your surgery.

When may family/visitors see me after surgery?

After your surgery, it may take between two and six hours to arrive on the surgical unit. The recovery time for each individual can vary and depends on your response to anesthesia and pain medications. Visitors can wait in the designated waiting rooms.

Once you are brought to the surgical unit, the staff will need a few minutes to get you settled and comfortable and ready for visitors.

May I take my own medications?

Never take your own medications while you are in the hospital, unless you are requested to do so by your nurse. Please bring a current list of your medications (Appendix 4*) so that we can have them ordered for you by your doctors.

How long will I be in the hospital?

Your length of stay is dependent upon your medical status and how well you are progressing with your physical therapy. On average, patients spend one or two nights in the hospital after surgery. Single-level surgical patients typically go home the same day as surgery.

Where will I be going after surgery?

You should expect to go home after discharge from the hospital. Further therapy services are arranged for by an assigned social worker or case manager if there is a medical need after a physical therapy evaluation and as per physician protocol.

How soon after surgery may I eat?

Surgical patients usually start with clear liquids. If you do not become nauseated, you will be advanced to your preadmission diet.

When may I shower?

This varies depending on your surgeon’s instructions, but typically you may shower within 48 to 72 hours after surgery or as instructed by nurse on discharge.

What are anticoagulants?

Anticoagulants (blood thinners) are a type of drug your doctor prescribes to prevent blood clots. Commonly used medications are Coumadin, Lovenox, Arixtra, Xarelto and aspirin. You will be directed to stay on one of them for a period of time after surgery. Depending on the medication, you will need to have your blood tested to monitor the effect of the drug and to regulate the dosage. Once discharged home, arrangements will be made to continue monitoring your blood.

How often will I receive physical and occupational therapy?

After your initial evaluation, you will receive therapy once or twice a day. Your therapist will be instructed by the surgeon as to what therapy you need. The goal is to keep you out of bed and active.

Where do I get the equipment I need?

Patients being discharged to home may receive equipment from either the physical therapist, occupational therapist or case manager. Insurance companies often cover only one device (walker, cane, or crutches). Bring in your own or borrowed walker (if you have one) before discharge to ensure a proper fit. A three-in-one commode may be recommended by the therapists. Many insurance companies do not cover this. The discharge planner will let you know. Handheld tools are not covered by insurance companies. You will be billed for them if the therapist recommends you need them.

Will I be able to use stairs at home?

Your physical therapist will make sure you can successfully navigate stairs prior to your discharge home. You will find that your endurance will improve once you are home, but it would be beneficial to have someone available to assist you in the first days after discharge.

What if I have an issue while I am in the hospital?

Please do not wait until after you are discharged to voice any concerns that you may have. Members of the nursing administration, as well as our volunteers, make daily rounds. Your suggestions are very important to us. We want your stay to be a superior patient experience.

Who will I see in the hospital after my surgery?

You will be cared for by an entire team of professionals under the direction of your surgeon. After surgery you may be seen by the surgeon, surgical resident, nurse practitioner and/or physician assistant to monitor your progress and assure the best possible recovery from your surgery.

To schedule an appointment with an orthopedic specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.

*Every appendix referenced throughout this content can be found in the print version of your guide to preparing for spine surgery (PDF).