Shoulder Surgery Overview
Oh %*#@+, my doctor recommended shoulder surgery. What do I do?
I have been there. I have been in your shoes when the doctor said, “you need to get this fixed with surgery”. I myself have had multiple procedures and I know that when all of the conservative care has been exhausted, it is time to move on with surgery. There are times as well when it is better for the patient to go straight to surgery. Two examples of this would be a fractured bone with significant displacement or an active patient with a full thickness rotator cuff tear.
Let me start out by saying that if you are going to have shoulder surgery done, today’s medicine is the absolute best it has ever been. What I mean is that today’s doctors / nurses, instruments, medicine, anesthesia, devices and surgical protocols are the very best one could ask for. We are so fortunate to live in a country with the absolute best medicine in the entire world.
Relax, you have tried all of the other treatment options and it is now time to move onto getting back to being you.
Night before surgery
Enjoy and have a great meal at dinnertime, but do not eat after midnight. Do not have any food after midnight, but you may have clear liquids up to 6 hours before your procedure. Gatorade, black coffee, un-sweet tea, and water count as clear liquids. If you take medications, as the surgery center which ones to take and which ones to skip the morning of your shoulder surgery. You may take your medication in the morning with a sip of water.
With every surgery I had, I also took a good shower and used anti-bacterial soap to make sure to get any and all bacteria off of my skin. Take a nice long shower either the night before or the morning of surgery. There are a lot of good anti-microbial soaps out there one can buy.
Day of Surgery
Most surgery centers want you to arrive about 1.5 hours before your procedure. They will check you in, start your IV and put you into the silliest gown you have ever worn. You will speak with the nurses, your anesthesiologist and myself before you go to the operating room.
When you are ready to go back to the OR, the nurse and anesthesiologist will take you back in the stretcher. In the operating room you’ll have the anesthesiologist, a nurse, a scrub technician, my physician assistant (Ali Ross) and myself taking care of you. Most surgeries take about 1-1.5 hours. After your shoulder surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room to fully wake up from anesthesia. You will probably be in the recovery room for about 45-60 minutes.
For rotator cuff repairs, instability repairs and shoulder replacements, we use pain catheters that infuse pain medicine into a set of nerves in your neck to keep your shoulder numb for a day or two. Prior to arthroscopic surgery and before pain catheters, we used to admit patients to the hospital for a couple of days following a rotator cuff repair. We are now able to do the surgery thought very small incisions to minimize the soft tissue trauma. This in conjunction with a pain catheter allows us the ability to do this surgery as an outpatient procedure.