Depending on the location of your surgery it may be required to have preoperative testing. In some cases blood work, EKG (heart tracing), or a chest X-ray may be needed. A chest x-ray is only done if you have a lung condition or a history of cigarette smoking. If any of these tests are needed they will be scheduled for you and will be done during pre-testing when you meet with the anesthesia staff. If it has been some time since you have seen your primary care physician and you have a lot of medical problems, it would be best that you see your medical doctor before your pre-test date.
You will arrive at the hospital approximately two hours before your scheduled surgery time. Procedures are performed on a “to follow” basis. Occasionally, a procedure scheduled ahead of yours may take longer than expected, so there may be some delay before your surgery. Regardless, it is important that you arrive on time. Sometimes an earlier procedure will cancel and we run ahead of schedule. You should not have anything to eat or drink after midnight the night before surgery. You may be advised to take some of your medications with a sip of water only. The anesthesia staff will discuss this with you at the time of your pre-testing. Upon arrival to the hospital you will go through a check-in process. At the appropriate time you will be brought into a pre-operative holding area. At this point the nurse will see you, review your records, and an IV will be started. A member of the anesthesia team will meet with you to discuss any anesthesia concerns and anesthetic options. Your surgery will be performed under general anesthesia (you will go to sleep.) In addition, the anesthesiologist may recommend a regional block if they think that you are a good candidate. This involves an injection of local anesthetic (numbing medicine) or placement of a catheter near the nerves at the base of the neck. These blocks are generally recommended to help control your pain following surgery. The anesthesiologist will discuss the risks of the block and the decision to perform this is a mutual decision between the patient and the anesthesiologist.
You can anticipate that your surgery will last approximately 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours, although this varies depending on the type of elbow arthroscopy for which you are scheduled. If you have family members with you they will wait for you in the waiting room. Your doctor will speak with them immediately after your surgical procedure to let them know that you are finished. During your surgery, family members should plan on remaining in waiting area in order to be accessible at the completion of the procedure, if your family member is not available when the doctor calls there may not be another opportunity to speak with the doctor that day. Belongings will be stored in a locker in the pre-operative area.
When you wake from surgery you will be located in the post-operative recovery room. Unfortunately family members cannot be present with you at this time as there are many other patients and many nurses in this area. Once you have been stabilized and are comfortable family members will be invited to sit with you while you continue recovering from anesthesia. Criteria for discharge include that your pain is under control and that you are eating, drinking, and able to walk to the bathroom with minimal assistance. You will have a dressing or a hard splint on your elbow and your arm will be immobilized in a sling.
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