Skip to main content
Average ER Wait Times

Swedish Medical Center

-- mins

Swedish Belmar ER

-- mins

Swedish Southwest ER

-- mins

Orthopedics: Getting Ready for Your Surgery

Preparing for Your Orthopedic Surgery

Our orthopedic surgeons in Denver believe the quickest recovery times require a lot of patient education, which is why we want to make sure you are prepared for your surgery. Take time to review the following information and talk with your surgeon if you have any questions.


The nurses in the pre-admission clinic are available to provide more information related to your hospital stay, including the process when you arrive the morning of surgery, and to answer any questions. The nurses will conduct a complete health history evaluation that covers:

  • current medications
  • previous surgeries
  • any health problems

If your doctor has asked you to have testing done before surgery, the clinic can do your blood work, EKG and chest X-ray. This service is free to our patients and we encourage you to take advantage of the excellent care and information given by the pre-admission clinic staff. Your insurance will be billed for any lab tests that are conducted. If testing is done at your primary care doctor’s office, a pre-admission nurse will obtain these results, review them when you are at pre-admit clinic and give you final instructions for surgery.

Your pre-admission clinic appointment can be made at the same time your doctor’s office schedules your surgery and should be completed within 14 days before your surgery, but no later than five days prior to surgery. You also will pre-register through Swedish's admissions department during your pre-admission clinic visit. Please be sure to bring your insurance card, picture ID and any applicable insurance deductibles or co-pays.

Blood Banking Before Orthopedic Surgery

Very rarely, you may need a blood transfusion either during or after your knee, hip or shoulder surgery. Because of this, your orthopedic surgeon might ask blood be made available prior to surgery. This may be accomplished in one of three ways, which your physician will review with you if necessary.

Medical Clearance

One of your physicians must do a complete history and physical exam before your surgery. This may be done by the orthopedic surgeon who is doing your surgery, or by your family doctor. Your surgeon's office will let you know where you need to have this medical clearance done.

You will also need to have laboratory work done two weeks prior to the surgery. This includes blood work and possibly a chest X-ray or EKG, which can be done at your primary care doctor's office or at Swedish Medical Center. Your orthopedic surgeon's office will tell you where to go to complete your laboratory work and any necessary tests.

Special Reminders Before

  • Remember your stomach must be empty before surgery, and in most cases, you cannot have any food or drink after midnight the night before surgery.
  • Please do not wear makeup when you come in for surgery, particularly mascara, or any body lotions.
  • Discuss your routine medications with your doctor. Your doctor may tell you to take some medications with a sip of water in the morning before you come to the hospital. Other medications, like aspirin, ibuprofen and other non-steroid, anti-inflammatory drugs can affect bleeding, so your doctor may tell you to stop taking these drugs several days before surgery.
  • Your nurses on the unit will work with you and your doctor to reconcile medications for your safety, so please be sure to follow their instructions during your hospital stay and to pay particular attention to your discharge instructions in case you need to alter your other medications.
  • If you become ill with a cold, fever, flu or other ailment prior to your surgery, please notify your surgeon.

Here is a general list of items you should bring to the hospital, as well as what you should leave home:

Do Bring

  • Operation consent form from your doctor's office
  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses, with case
  • Hearing aids with case and extra batteries
  • Shoes: good for walking, sturdy and comfortable
  • Robe: short length, complete front opening
  • Personal nightclothes (optional)
  • One loose-fitting outfit
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Slippers
  • Advanced Directives/Living Will/Medical Power of Attorney documentation

Do not Bring

  • Money, other than what you may need for co-payments or deductibles due upon your arrival. (If you have pre-registered, payments will have already been arranged in advance. If you need to register, please remember to also bring a photo ID and your insurance card.) We recommend sending your money and credit cards home with a trusted family member.
  • Valuables, such as jewelry and laptops. Do not leave any valuables in your hospital room.
  • Floor-length or step-in robe, which may be a tripping hazard. Please bring a shorter robe for your safety.
  • Medications from home.
  • High-heeled or open-backed shoes

Preparing for Transportation:

  1. Arrange for assistance, if needed, for pre-operative appointments and transportation.
  2. Plan for transportation to and from the hospital, using a car that you can get in and out of easily. You will not be permitted to drive yourself home, and you cannot take a cab.
  3. Make transportation arrangements for appointments after coming home from the hospital. You may have driving restrictions following your surgery.

Anesthesia/Pain Relief Options

You will have a chance to talk to your anesthesiologist before your surgery, either by phone the night before or in the pre-op holding area. The anesthesiologist will review your medical history and discuss the options for your anesthesia.

General anesthesia is the technique most people are familiar with. Under general anesthesia, you are not awake during your surgery.

Spinal anesthesia uses a small needle to inject medication into your lower back near the spinal cord. While the medication is working, you lose the ability to feel and move your legs. You may also choose to have additional medication which relaxes you and produces a feeling of light sleep.

Your safety and comfort are the primary concerns of your anesthesiologist and your orthopedic specialists. If you have specific questions or concerns about anesthesia before you come to the hospital, you may call Swedish's anesthesia providers, South Denver Anesthesiology, at (303) 761-5646.