Frequently Asked Questions

What are the major risks of spine surgery?

Most surgeries go well without any complications. However, any surgery can pose a risk depending on your specific situation. Discuss any concerns you may have with your surgeon.

Will I need blood?

Typically, most spine patients do not need a blood transfusion after surgery. You may be asked to donate your own blood prior to surgery if you are at high risk for needing a blood transfusion. Discuss your options concerning donating your own blood or using community blood bank supply with your surgeon.

How long will my hospital stay be?

Your hospital stay is based on your specific diagnosis, any pre-existing medical problems, and the type of surgery you are having. Patients undergoing lumbar spine fusions or total lumbar disc replacement, typically stay 2-3 days in the hospital. Cervical fusions or total cervical disc replacement patients are discharged the morning after surgery. Patients admitted for discectomy or laminectomy will be admitted as a 23hr outpatient and may be discharged the same day or the following morning

After I’m discharged from the hospital, can I go home or will I have to go to a rehabilitation facility?

The majority of patients can return home after they are discharged. However, some patients may need additional physical therapy, occupational therapy or nursing care at a rehabilitation facility. This decision will be made after evaluating your recovery and progress.

Will I need to have nursing care when I return home?

The decision to have nursing care or physical therapy services at home is based on your hospital progress. Most patients do not need home nursing care or physical therapy.

When will I get my stitches/staples removed?

In almost every spine surgery situation, the sutures are dissolvable and placed under the skin, so there is no need to have them removed. We will place Steri-Strips (paper tape) on top of the incision for reinforcement. Your Steri-Strips will fall off on their own. In the event that you do have external stitches or staples, they should be removed at your surgeon’s office.

How should I care for my incision?

To prevent against infection, your incision should be kept clean and dry. You should change the bandage on your incision every day using a dry piece of gauze and tape, or a large Band-Aid. If you prefer, you may leave the incision open to air without a bandage as long as to there is no drainage.

When can I take a shower?

You may shower 72 hours after your surgery. The incision should be covered with a piece of guaze and tape. You should try to keep the area as dry as possible. After you shower, you must dry your incision well and redress with guaze and tape.

Will I have any restrictions after the surgery?

To ensure a smooth recovery, we suggest that you avoid bending, twisting or lifting anything over 10 pounds for the first six weeks after surgery. This includes avoiding working out or participating in sports – except for walking – for six weeks after surgery.

What activities can I do?

We encourage you to walk every day. This will help your healing and recovery process.

Can I drive when I return home?

While it is okay to ride in a car as a passenger, we recommend that you don’t drive for 2 weeks after surgery.

When can I have sex?

We recommend that to prevent injury, you discuss with your surgeon when you can engage in sexual activity.

When should I schedule a follow-up appointment?

You will receive a follow up appointment in your surgical packet. It is typically scheduled 10 days to 2 weeks after surgery.

Will I have to wear a brace? If yes, for how long?

Braces, also called orthotics, may be prescribed by your surgeon to provide additional support to your spine. Some braces will be measured and fitted before surgery while others are fitted during your inpatient stay after surgery. There are several vendors in the area that manufacture and modify the devices for proper wear and fit. Your nurse or therapist can help if you have questions. Wear a light layer of clothing (T-shirt is great) under the brace to prevent skin irritation. Clean the skin and check for red areas each day. If you have been prescribed a brace, you should wear it as directed. If you have a cervical spine collar (neck brace), you must wear this all the time, except while in the shower. If you have a lumbar brace (lower back brace), you should wear this when you are active, though you can remove it to sleep or when you are lying down.

For Questions

Any questions regarding the above information, feel free to contact Peggy Ann at 302-731-2888 ext 1138.