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Orthopedics: What Happens the Day of Your Surgery

What Will Happen the Day of Your Orthopedic Surgery?

Your safety is our priority!

Our goal is to make you feel safe and secure while you are in our hospital. Every member of our staff is dedicated to:

  • Providing you with a safe, healthy and secure environment.
  • Performing their jobs carefully and competently.
  • Using safe and effective practices and technologies.
  • Responding to your wants and needs in a timely manner.
  • Ensuring timely communications between caregivers and patients by answering questions about your treatment and your health, providing you with specific information about your care and explaining changes about your treatment.


You are expected to come to the hospital 2 ½ hours before your scheduled surgery time. Enter the hospital through the main entrance at 501 East Hampden at the circle drive. Free valet parking is available 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. weekdays, and free parking is available across the street in the South Garage.

Please begin by checking in at the Admissions Department in the lobby. You will need to provide your insurance card and a picture ID. Admissions personnel will instruct you on where to go next in your preparation for surgery.

Pre-Op Holding Area:

The Pre-Op Holding Area is within the surgery area. Because of space restrictions, only one family member may accompany you. Anyone else that is with you will be taken to the surgery waiting room.

In Pre-Op Holding, the nurses will do a nursing physical assessment then scrub the skin over the surgical area and start an intravenous (IV) line in your arm. Blood may be drawn for the last step in preparing blood for possible transfusion. This needs to be done even if you have donated your own blood. You will also meet the anesthesiologist and discuss your anesthesia plan. Medications might be started, including antibiotics. A simple monitor placed on your finger will measure the oxygen in your blood. Finally, the skin over your surgical area may be shaved. A pre-surgical prep will be done with an antibacterial solution.

Operating Room:

The nurse who will be with you during your surgery will come to the Pre-op Holding area to meet you. When everyone is ready, you will be taken to the Operating Room. Now you are in the care of your orthopedic surgeon, the anesthesiologist and the operating room nurses.

Blood Re-Infusion/Salvage

During and immediately after surgery, your physician may utilize a device that collects blood lost during surgery for possible transfusion back to you, if needed. This lowers some of the risk associated with blood transfusions, because it is your own blood. Your physician may utilize this option if a transfusion is necessary.

Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU):

After your surgery is completed, you will recover in the PACU. The nurses will monitor your condition. You may notice a blood pressure cuff on your arm and a monitor on your finger. Everyone recovers with an oxygen tube positioned under the nose and over the ears - this may feel as if you are wearing glasses. The nurses help you stay warm and comfortable, so please tell them how you are feeling.

You may stay in the PACU for an hour or more, depending on how quickly you wake up and regain feeling. The nurses will monitor you and provide pain medication if you need it. Your family is notified when you are moved from surgery to the PACU, and your surgeon will visit with them to report on the surgery. After you have recovered from the anesthesia, you will then be transferred to your room on the orthopedic floor. Again, your family is informed.

Managing Pain:

Many patients do not anticipate the pain that commonly follows knee replacement surgery and can be surprised and disheartened. This pain is a normal result of invasive surgery and your nurse will work closely with you to provide compassionate care and appropriate pain control.

People experience pain in different ways; therefore, it is important that you give members of your healthcare team feedback on how you rate your pain before and after being medicated. The nurse will ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 0-10. Ten is the worst pain you can imagine, while zero is no pain. Your nurse can assist in providing pain medication or in repositioning your body or equipment to ease stress and pain.

Patients may face increased emotions of worry, doubt, anxiety or fear following surgery. Being patient as you allow your body to adequately recover and asking questions so you can understand what to expect will help ease some of these concerns. A case manager may provide resources if you need additional assistance managing your emotional recovery

Patient Controlled Pain Relief

Managing your pain after surgery is important for your recovery, and there are many options for easing post-operative, acute pain. Our goal at Swedish Medical Center is to work with your physician to develop a pain management plan that effectively controls your pain while, at the same time, minimizes potential side effects.

The most common method to ease post-operative pain is the use of intravenous (IV) narcotics. These can be administered by a registered nurse, or they can be administered via an infusion device where you control the delivery of your medication. This method is called patient-controlled analgesia or PCA. The PCA machine is programmed based on your physician's orders. When you feel discomfort and want pain relief, all you need to do is push the PCA button, and the pain medication will usually begin to take affect within a few minutes.