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How should I prepare for lumbar spinal fusion surgery?

To prepare for lumbar spinal fusion surgery, you will need to complete any ordered presurgical lab work, electrocardiogram (EKG) and x-rays. You must not have anything to eat or drink after midnight the night before surgery: no gum, mints, sips of water or coffee. You may brush your teeth. If you have been instructed by your doctor to take a medication the morning of surgery, take it with the smallest sips of water possible.

On the day of the surgery, it's important that you arrive on time and check in. You will need a list of your medications with times and dosages. You will then be taken to a presurgical area where:
  • your surgical procedure will be confirmed
  • you will put on a hospital gown
  • you will have an intravenous (IV) line inserted
  • you will have a visit from anesthesiologist
Lumbar spinal fusion surgery is a surgery to join two or more spinal bones -- vertebrae -- so that they eventually grow into one solid bone. Take these steps to help your surgery and recovery go better:
  • Stop smoking. If you smoke, try to stop prior to surgery. Non-smokers have fewer complications related to surgery. More importantly, smoking slows bone healing and could cause your fusion surgery to fail.
  • Stop certain medications. Stop taking aspirin two weeks before surgery. Stop taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) one week before surgery. If you take blood thinners, ask your doctor when to stop taking them. You can continue to take most of your other regular medications. Tell your doctor everything you're taking so your doctor can help you know what to stop.
  • Ask for time off work. Ask your doctor how long you may need to be off work and make arrangements with your employer.
  • Ask for someone to drive you home. Arrange for someone to drive you home from the hospital and to help you at home for the first few days.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.