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Your Bunion Surgery: In The Operating Room And Care At Home

May 30, 2008
You will be greeted by your OR scrub tech, or perhaps it is an RN, and perhaps you met them before surgery (if you didn't it's only because they were in surgery already and couldn't leave to introduce themselves). Everyone in the room will be in gown, masks, and odd headwear, maybe like your head cover.

You will move onto the operating "table", which is hard, cold (fresh sheets!) and narrow (so surgeons can reach anywhere easily). You will have electrodes attached to your torso and arm, a blood pressure cuff applied to your arm (hopefully the one without the IV), and usually a cold gel-based pad in case you have the cautery to coagulate blood vessels. Next, your anesthesiologist, who will be behind your head, will begin instructing you on what is coming next.

Next, you will either:

Be completely inducted into general anesthesia, awakening after the procedure is finished,

Be given local anesthesia, which means numbing medication is injected into your foot for the procedure, OR

(Most likely) You will be given, through your IV, a short-acting sleep agent, and your surgeon injects the numbing medication while you are sedated. When you wake up, the procedure will be underway and you won't feel any discomfort.

Once the surgery is finished you will be placed back on your guerney (the bed on wheels) and taken back to the PACU (Post-Anesthesia Care Unit). Your foot will be elevated, cold packs applied, fluids offered for you to drink when you are fully awake. Usually your foot is encased in a soft dressing of gauze wrapped with coban, which is like an ace bandage that clings, like saran wrap can.

There will be a lot of instructions both verbal and written for you and your caregiver to follow. Your significant other hopefully will be by your side. Your post-operative "shoe" will be applied, crutched if ordered, you will be asked to empty your bladder once, just to check, and your surgeon will stop by if there is time. This usually happens within an hour.

Your instructions for home usually are RICE:



Compression (your dressing will already be doing this), and


Your surgeon will likely call and check on you the same day; the surgery center usually within 24 hours. Your foot will be "asleep" from the numbing medication for several hours; just follow your Doctor's orders on medications post-operatively; the surgery center will also re-inforce the instructions.

The main thing to remember is your body will help you know how you are doing; if your foot is throbbing, elevate it. Relief is immediate. Do ice it the first few days. As an aside, the first night you may feel that the dressing is uncomfortably tight. Your surgeon will often advise you to snip into the dressing a bit; you had some swelling after surgery, which is normal. Call your doctor if the area is extremely painful, swollen, or red and hot to the touch.

Swelling will last for weeks; be patient. You will have several visits to see your doctor, which usually include xrays to verify position. The screw that was placed to straighten the bone usually is removed in about 3 months. Often you will return to the same outpatient surgery center.

You will be dancing soon. Don't dance? You should think about it.
About the Author
As a former RN, KPetit has helped many patients through procedures. Learn more about care of your foot after surgery and how to keep your feet their healthiest and most attractive at
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