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What You Need to Know Before Bunion Surgery

Jun 2, 2008
The procedure to remove a bunion(called a bunionectomy) is usually done on an outpatient basis, meaning you check in and out the same day, often into an outpatient (ambulatory) surgery center. Typically you are required to have nothing to eat or drink for several hours prior to your procedure.

Depending on other factors (age, general health, etc.) you may be required to have some lab tests (which is scheduled and have done at least the day before your surgery) to screen for anything out of the ordinary. Depending on procedural policies at your particular surgery center, you may receive a call from your anesthesiologist, the doctor who will deliver sedation for your surgery. He or she will ask some routine questions in order to best meet your needs.

The scheduling staff, either from your Doctor's office, the surgery center, or both, as well as the nursing staff will all contact you. Schedulers are determining insurance coverage, consent forms and, of course, scheduling; the nursing staff will further screen your basic health back ground, as well as initiate teaching. You will need to know what to expect on arrival, during your procedure, and what you need after you get home.

Typically you are required to have nothing to eat or drink for several hours prior to your procedure.

Depending on other factors (age, general health, etc.) you may be required to have some lab tests (which is scheduled and have done at least the day before your surgery) to screen for anything out of the ordinary. Depending on procedural policies at your particular surgery center, you may receive a call from your anesthesiologist, the doctor who will deliver sedation for your surgery. He or she will ask some routine questions in order to best meet your needs.

The scheduling staff, either from your Doctor's office, the surgery center, or both, as well as the nursing staff will all contact you. Schedulers are determining insurance coverage, consent forms and, of course, scheduling; the nursing staff will further screen your basic health back ground, as well as initiate teaching. You will need to know what to expect on arrival, during your procedure, and what you need after you get home.

2. The Day of Surgery:

You arrive, usually with someone who has driven you in for your procedure (You will NOT be driving home; do not ignore this directive). You have not had anything to eat or drink; you check in with the front desk staff; there are more consents and privacy policies to sign, insurance cards to provide. You may sit and wait a bit.

Next, you are invited back to the surgical unit. Now it seems more real. Usually there is an area to change into your backless gown, meaning you totally disrobe (some centers let you keep your underwear on, but not all do); you may get a locker to store your belongings.

At this time you may be asked to remove glasses, contact lenses, all pierced jewelry, etc. This is as much for your protection as anything. For example, sometimes an electro-cautery device may be needed during your procedure to coagulate a bleeding vessel (sounds a lot more serious than it is); the current could be attracted to metal on your skin, leading to a burn.

At some centers you are allowed to keep dentures in place, hearing aids, glasses, etc., until or unless you need to remove them.

3. Immediately Before Surgery

Next you start your pre-operative care: a checklist to ensure you haven't eaten or drank, checking consents, possibly more consents, paper work blah blah blah. You will be fitted for a post-op "shoe" which is a rigid-soled, velcro-tabbed support that will be your best friend for the next several weeks. It is not attractive, but it does the job to protect you post-procedural foot.

You may also be fitted for crutches, depending on your particular circumstances. Your foot will probably be scrubbed or painted with a betadine solution to kill germs (cold, wet, brown, but good for your foot). You will be given a flimsy cap to cover your hair (to prevent infection; hair is a huge bacteria-harboring place).

So now you are looking pretty good; your foot is brown from the betadine, you are thirsty, you are wearing a stupid cap, no make-up, you hope no one is really noticing you (actually they're not, this is just another day).

Either a nurse or the anesthesiologist will place an intravenous line in your hand,, wrist, or the inner crook of your elbow; you may or may not have a little numbing agent prior. It is uncomfortable but only for a moment.

There is no needle in your vein after this, just an extremely flexible, sterile plastic tube-let, as flexible as cooked spaghetti. We are so fortunate in this day and age!

You may hear conversations that do not make sense, such as talk of "vital signs" (simply checking the basic temperature, heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure), "pulse-ox" (the little finger clip that measures the percentage of oxygen in your bloodstream, actually called a pulse oximeter), "leads" (the wires connected to the sticky electrode pads you likely had placed after you got dressed in your surgery attire), and lots of other lingo.

The point is, do not worry! The staff are usually quite busy and do not intend to be thoughtless. health care providers are often the kindest people you would want to meet; if you have a question, just ask.

Eventually, your surgeon shows up and greets you. Now things are happening; the flurry of check, re-checks, signing consents (the surgeon rechecks everything), and you now meet your operating room nurse, and darned if he/she doesn't go through another checklist. You may be feeling frustrated by this point but you should feel good; these measures are in place to protect you. (WHICH foot is it? Right; left?) It's kind of like the clerk at the department store who asks for additional ID; someone is watching out for you.
About the Author
As a former RN, KPetit has helped many patients through procedures. Learn more about what to expect in the operating room and how to keep your feet their healthiest and most attractive at
http://www.HappyFeetz.com
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