Before Surgery

Having surgery, no matter how “small” or “minor” the procedure, is a significant event. First, you must find time in your already busy lifetime to have the surgery and to recover afterwards. In addition to scheduling the surgical date itself, there also will be various pre-operative appointments so that you can meet the anesthesiologist and undergo appropriate medical tests.

It’s important for you to understand the nature of your surgery and to know exactly what’s going to be done during the procedure. You should be able to answer such questions as: What is the procedure I will be having? How long will it take for me to recover and get back to my usual activities? What kind of care will I need after I leave the hospital?

You must also prepare emotionally for surgery. Having an operation can cause considerable anxiety. During your recovery you may find yourself more dependent on others than you’ve ever been in the past. It’s important to remember, though, that you’re not alone. Preparing yourself physically and mentally is important for both the surgery and a smooth recover.

We know that you have many questions about your surgery and what to expect. The following pages contain answers to the questions most commonly asked by our patients and their families.

  • Call your primary care physician’s office to set up an appointment for your preoperative physical and lab tests within 30 days of surgery. In addition, if you are followed by a cardiologist or pulmonologist, you will need to see him/her prior to surgery to be cleared for the procedure.* All preoperative testing results should be faxed to (703) 810-5420
  • Consult your primary care physician about the use of medications, especially routine prescriptions for heart conditions, high blood pressure, asthma and seizures. If instructed, take these medications with a small sip of water on the day of surgery.
  • Ask your primary care physician about when to stop taking blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin, Ibuprofen, Coumadin, Plavix or Lovenox.
  • Do not take diabetic medications on the day of surgery unless instructed to do so by your primary care physician.
  • Do NOT eat or drink anything after 12 midnight the night before surgery, including no mints, gum or candy. You may brush your teeth, but may not swallow any water. Your surgery will be cancelled if you eat or drink after midnight. The reason for this is to minimize the risks of “aspiration.” Aspiration is when stomach contents enter the lungs during anesthesia, causing irritation and even pneumonia. During your pre-operative visit, you will be told which, if any, medications to take on the morning of surgery. Do so using only a sip or two of water.
  • Do not consume alcohol for 24 hours prior to your surgery. Smoking and recreational drug use prior to surgery can lead to serious side effects under anesthesia.
  • Use the scrub brush that was provided to you by the surgical coordinator the night before or morning of surgery. Clean your leg from your knee to your toes, being sure to scrub between the toes as well
  • Plan how you will get around and care for yourself in your home after surgery. This includes practicing using crutches and deciding where you will be sleeping.
  • You will need a responsible adult (18 years or older) to drive you home and to stay with you for at least 24 hours to assist you if you are having outpatient (day) surgery.
  • You will receive a phone call from our staff prior to surgery telling you what time to arrive for surgery.
  • Any work release, FMLA forms, or disability paperwork will be taken care of by our office staff. Do not give any of this paperwork to your physician. There is some turnaround time for this forms so take this into account and plan ahead. Your patience is appreciated.



If you routinely use any nicotine-containing products (cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes, etc.) chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes, etc.), you need to stop prior to your surgery. Using nicotine places you at a higher risk of complications and is essential to help you achieve the best outcome possible. Depending on the nature of your operation, you may be tested, and your surgery may be cancelled if you continue to use nicotine-containing products

Nonsteroidal Medication

If you are undergoing bone surgery (osteotomy, fusion, or fracture) you are not allowed to take any nonsteroidal/anti-inflammatory medications following surgery until otherwise instructed by your surgeon. Taking these medications following surgery inhibits bone formation. This does not apply to soft tissue or ligament surgeries.

Common over-the-counter NSAIDs include Advil, Motrin, Ibuprofen and Aleve. Prescription NSAIDs include Naprosyn, Ibuprofen, Mobic, Celebrex, Relafen (nabumetone), Lodine (etodolac), Daypro (oxaprozin), Voltaren (diclofenac), Clinoril (sulindac), and indomethacin. If you are unsure about whether a medication you are taking is an NSAID, please ask your nurse or physician.