What to Expect: Foot and Ankle Surgery

We understand that going through surgery is a stressful experience for many patients, but our team at TOI is committed to making you feel at ease with your upcoming procedure. The information below will help you better understand and prepare for your surgical experience with us.

Choose from the links below:

The Days Leading Up To Your Surgery
The Morning of Surgery
Anesthesia
The Operating and Recovery Rooms
Recovering after Procedure


The Days Leading Up To Your Surgery

Scheduling: Depending on your specific surgery, you may be able to go home that same day or you may need to stay a few days in the hospital. Please plan accordingly and be sure to consider work schedules, family commitments, and the holidays.

Preoperative Evaluation: You will need to meet with the internist and/or the anesthesiology service for a preoperative evaluation. This process will often include a comprehensive history and physical exam as well as laboratory tests. Before your scheduled procedure, a nurse will call you with additional instructions and reminders. You will be told when and where to come the morning of surgery. You will be reminded not to eat or drink anything after midnight. This does not apply to the medications that you have been instructed to take the morning of surgery with a small sip of water.

Medications: It is important for you to bring a list (or the actual pill bottles) including all your medications to your medical clearance appointment; including vitamins, over-the-counter medications, and supplements (a number of medications and supplements may interact with medications you might receive after surgery). You may be instructed to stop certain medications (such as strong blood thinners like Plavix or Coumadin) several days to a week before your surgery, depending on the medication. In addition, you may be instructed to take some of your medications the morning of surgery even though you won't be able to eat that morning.

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The Morning of Surgery

Please expect to arrive several hours before a procedure is scheduled to begin in order to prepare you for surgery. A staff member will direct you to the preoperative “Holding Area” where you will be given a hospital gown to change into and assigned a bed. Your family can be with you during this time. Please leave any valuables (especially jewelry) at home as you will be asked to remove everything before entering the operating room.  A nurse will start an intravenous line (commonly referred to as an ‘IV’) to give you fluids. Please note: if you are a woman of child-bearing age, you will be asked to provide a urine specimen for a pregnancy test.

Before heading into the operating room, you will be asked to confirm what type of surgery you are having and sign a consent form for that surgery if you have not already done so.  As an extra precaution, I will speak to you and sign your surgical site to confirm where on your body the surgery will be performed. At this time, you will also meet your anesthesiologist who will discuss what type of anesthesia you will receive.

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Anesthesia

There are two major types of anesthesia surgical patients undergo: general or regional anesthesia.

General anesthesia entails taking sleep medications via your intravenous line. Once you are completely asleep, a breathing tube is placed in your windpipe and your breathing will be assisted with a ventilator. You will remain asleep and relaxed until the surgery is complete. Once we’re done with your procedure and you begin to breathe on your own, the tube in your windpipe will be removed and you will awaken comfortably in the operating room.

Regional anesthesia numbs the nerves going to the area involved in your procedure, typically via an injection. Depending on your preference, you can choose to be either lightly or heavily sedated for the surgery. Regional anesthesia will last for several hours after the procedure, significantly reducing your pain and easing the transition to oral pain medications. The majority of my surgeries are performed under regional anesthesia and you will feel no pain during the procedure. Since regional anesthesia usually requires less sedative and pain medications, your recovery time should be faster and you will feel more comfortable with fewer side effects such as sleepiness and nausea.

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The Operating and Recovery Rooms

Anesthesia/Surgery: After your consultation with the anesthesiologist, a nurse will take you to the operating room. Once you settle in, your anesthesiologist will connect you to monitors, such as a blood pressure cuff and EKG leads, and provide you with a sedative medication. One of the forms of anesthesia discussed above will be administered and then the surgery will begin. An anesthesiologist will be with you the entire time. When the procedure is complete your surgeon will spend some time speaking with your family while you are transferred to the recovery room.

Recovery: In the recovery room, you will fully awaken from the sedation and receive ice chips followed by small sips of water before you can transition to other fluids or food. If you leave the hospital that same day, you will receive detailed instructions for taking care of yourself at home and a prescription for pain medication. If you’re admitted to the hospital for a few days, you will be assigned a room and transferred there later that day or early the next morning depending on availability.

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Recovering after Procedure

When Performed at the Hospital

Physical Therapy:  Expect an active recovery process starting with physical therapy the day after your surgery. Working with a therapist is a vital component of your recovery that will allow you to return to your normal activities as soon as possible.

Pain Management:  You will transition from IV pain medications to oral pain medications in preparation for discharge within a day or two post-surgery and receive prescriptions comparable to the pain medications you received in the hospital.

Medical consultant: A hospital doctor will see you while you are in the hospital and will be available to address medical issues if needed.

After one to four days post-operation, you will be discharged from the hospital, likely with prescriptions for pain, nausea, and blood clot prophylaxis. We’ll also schedule a follow-up appointment with me in clinic to determine how you’re healing.

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