Preparing for surgery

There are important steps to follow prior to your surgery to ensure you are prepared for your surgical procedure. Below is a list of things which need to be completed before your surgery date.

Pre-operative labwork

You will be given a prescription for labwork to be completed within 1 month prior to your surgery date. We recommend that you complete your pre operative labwork at the hospital as certain labs can only be performed at the hospital.

Please ensure the results of this labwork are faxed to Dr. Mazahery's office at 703-810-5420.

Medical clearance

You may need medical clearance from your primary care physician within 1 month prior to your surgery date. Please ensure your medical clearance is faxed to Dr. Mazahery's office at 703- 810-5420.

Pre-operative hospital interview

You will need an appointment at the pre-operative department at the hospital to review your medical history in preparation for anesthesia. This pre-operative interview should be completed before your appointment for medical clearance with your primary care physician. This will ensure your labs are completed and available for your primary care physician to review. Call the hospital to schedule this appointment. Call Reston Hospital at 703-689-9005 option #1 or Fairfax Hospital at 703-970-6565.

Time off work and help at home

During this time it is also important to consider the amount of time you will need off work after your procedure and discuss this with your employer. It is also important to plan ahead for what help you may need at home after surgery and discuss this with family and friends. Arranging this prior to surgery will help you be able to focus on your recovery post-operatively. 


As your surgery date is approaching, review this checklist to ensure all the steps are completed.

  • 2 weeks before surgery
    • Pre-operative interview with hospital scheduled and pre-operative labwork completed. The hospital will arrange for you to have a nasal swab to screen for MRSA/MSSA.
    • Pre-operative medical clearance completed/scheduled
  • 1 week before surgery
    • Stop taking aspirin and antiplatelet medications such as Plavix. Stop taking anti-inflammatories such as Advil, ibuprofen, Aleve, Motrin, Voltaren, etc. If aspirin or antiplatelet medication is prescribed by your doctor, check with them before stopping to make sure it is appropriate.
  • 2 days before surgery
    • Check with the hospital for arrival time on the day of surgery
  • Night before surgery
    • Do not eat or drink anything past midnight unless otherwise instructed by the anesthesiologist
    • Shower with a soap called Hibiclens the night before your surgery. The hospital will give you the soap.

What to expect during your hospital stay

Day of surgery

  1. Paperwork. Bring your MRI if you did not leave it at the office before surgery.
  2. Registration. Register at the hospital. They will tell you where to go.
  3. Pre-op holding. In pre-op holding you will be given a gown to change in to and given a bag for your personal belongings. You will meet your holding nurse who will review your chart and start your IV. You will be given pre operative medications. You will also meet with your surgical team including the anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetist, and surgical nurse. You will see Dr. Mazahery prior to your surgery. Your family member can stay with you until you are transferred to the operating room.
  4. Operating room. You will be taken to the operating room. Your family will be directed to the waiting room. Dr. Mazahery will meet them there when your surgery is complete.
  5. Recovery room. When your surgery is complete you will be transferred to the recovery room to be monitored. You are typically here for 1 to 2 hours. If you are having a same day surgery, you will then be transferred to secondary recovery, and your family will be notified when they can see you. If you are being admitted to the hospital, you will be transferred to your room and your family will see you at that time. 

Hospital post-operative day 1

If you are admitted to the hospital overnight you will be discharged home the day after surgery.

Pain management

We employ a multi-modal pain management approach. We give you medications in the pre operative holding area prior to your surgery to help reduce post operative pain. You will also be given pain medications during surgery. You will be given oral narcotic medications post operatively as needed. We also utilize anti-inflammatories as needed for breakthrough pain.

Physical therapy 

We strongly encourage early mobilization after surgery to help with your recovery. Your first session of physical therapy will start on post-operative day #1. The physical therapist will help you mobilize safely. You will be shown techniques to get in and out of bed and chairs, how to use a walker, and mobilize in the hallway and stairs.


You may have a drain in your incision post-operatively to help prevent fluid from collecting at the surgical site. This is not used in every surgery, and is typically removed on post-operative day #1 or #2.

Foley catheter 

You may have a foley catheter placed in your bladder during surgery to help prevent urinary retention. This is typically removed on post-operative day #1 or #2.

Hospital post-operative day 2

Physical therapy

You will have another session of physical therapy encouraging walking in the hallways and safety going up and down stairs.

Discharge planning 

We will arrange what devices you may need at home, such as a walker, and have them available for you to take with you.

Home medications 

You will be instructed what home medications to resume or discontinue. You will be given prescriptions for pain medication to take at home. 

Expected length of hospital stay

The amount of time you will be in the hospital depends on your individual surgery and post-operative recovery. Typical lengths of stay in the hospital are as follows:

  • Lumbar discectomy: same day discharge
  • Lumbar fusion: 2 nights in hospital (may be less for minimally invasive surgery)