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General Surgery

Preparing for Anesthesia and Surgery

Prior to the surgery, your physician will give you a packet of information prepared by Virginia Hospital Center's Pre-Operative Screening department, including an introductory letter explaining how you can best prepare for your pending surgery. Please take time to read this information. To learn more about your surgery jorney, please click on the links below to expand or collapse.

Before Surgery: Steps You Can Take

The steps below are general guidelines only, and are not meant to replace your physician's preoperative recommendations.

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  1. Learn about the Procedure
    Virginia Hospital Center has highly trained surgical specialists with extensive experience in their fields who are available to answer any questions you may have. Fully understanding your condition, as well as the risks and benefits of any surgical procedure, can help you relax and better prepare for a successful outcome.
  2. Take Care of Yourself
    Practice eating well, staying fit, and getting lots of rest, especially in the weeks leading up to your procedure. If you smoke, try to quit a minimum of two weeks prior to surgery. The healthier you are, the more likely you are to have a smooth recovery. Be sure to follow your physician's instructions regarding eating, drinking, smoking and taking medications in the hours before your procedure.
  3. Make a "To Do" List
    Do you have pets or children who will need care in your absence? Do you need to alert your boss or coworkers about your plans for surgery and recovery? Making a "to do" list will ensure that all your arrangements are made in advance. Also consider making a packing list. Even if you're going home the same day as your surgery, you'll want to bring some things to the Hospital with you. Other things, such as valuables, are best left at home. Items you'll want to consider:
    1. Comfortable, loose-fitting clothes - To wear after your procedure.
    2. Makeup - For some surgeries, you'll be asked not to wear makeup during the procedure.
    3. Contacts/Eyeglasses - In some cases, wearing contact lenses during surgery can cause serious harm to your eyes. If you decide to wear your contact lenses to the hospital, bring a contact lens case and solution, as well as eyeglasses and an eyeglass case.
    4. Medications - Even if you are going home the same day as your surgery, you should bring your medications (including insulin if you are diabetic) to the Hospital. Advance Directives - If you have a living will, bring it with you to the Hospital.
  4. Food Shop before Your Surgery
    The diet recommended post surgery is light and easily digestible. It is recommended that you start with crackers, soup and then advance diet as tolerated. Buy or have prepared a variety of your favorite easily digestible foods at home. Also buy your favorite fluids.
  5. Arrange for Help with Prescriptions
    The Hospital does not have an outpatient pharmacy and can not dispense medications to go home with our patients. So that you will easily be able to fill the prescriptions you need, arrange in advance for a family/friend to be available to do so.
  6. Arrange for Transportation
    After most surgeries, you should not drive yourself home from the Hospital. Arrange for a friend or family member to accompany you and help you with your immediate postoperative needs.
  7. Plan to Be Clean
    Patients should bathe on the day of surgery, prior to arriving at the Hospital.
  8. Plan for a Smooth Recovery
    Ask your physician what you should expect in the days and weeks after your procedure. Purchase any necessary supplies in advance, and make sure you have adequate postoperative help, whether from a family member or professional caregiver.

The Day of Surgery

Please arrive at the time your surgeon asks you to be at the Hospital.

A nurse will greet you in the Center for Surgery and place an arm band on your wrist, identifying you and your surgeon. If you have allergies, a red band will be used to alert the staff. You will be asked many times throughout your stay to state your name and the procedure you are having. DO NOT be alarmed, this is a patient safety standard used in all hospital settings.

Family and friends are welcomed but space is limited. They will be asked to wait in the surgical waiting room. After the surgery, the surgeon will come and find them. Your visitors should expect a one hour period that you will spend in the recovery area, and then you will be taken to a private room. Visitors may visit with you until you are discharged.

We want you to be very satisfied and give you the Best Care at the Best Hospital. However, there are times when we have no control over the operating room schedule and you may be delayed due to an emergency or an unforeseen event. We will make every attempt to keep you informed. Please bring a book or something to occupy you while you are waiting.

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Before you enter the operating room you will be asked to remove all jewelry, makeup, contact lenses, dentures, and underwear. This is very important and is for patient safety. You will meet your anesthesiologist in the holding area of the operating room.
The operating room area temperature is kept cool; please ask for a warmed blanket if you are uncomfortable. A safety strap is placed across your body. All members of the team will identify you and your procedure before they begin. Your privacy and respect is of utmost importance to all of us. Someone will be with you at all times.
After your procedure you will be taken to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). A nurse will be with you the entire time. The length of stay depends on your surgery and the type of anesthesia you received. The nurse will keep you warm and comfortable. Pain Control is very important, you will be asked to rate your pain on a scale of 0-10 after the surgery. You may not leave the PACU until your level is 5 or below. Sometimes bed availability keeps you in the PACU area longer then needed, the staff will make every attempt to keep your family informed.
After the PACU you will be taken to your room and your family and friends may visit with you. Your physician will write your post operative orders for the Nursing Staff on the unit.


Pain Management

Virginia Hospital Center is committed to patient comfort and providing the best possible care for patients and their families. Please ask your nurse and physician about our Pain Management Program.

We are committed to patient comfort and have an aggressive approach to pain management and patient education. We believe that with effective pain management during your illness and/or after surgery we can:

  • Reduce pain
  • Increase your comfort and satisfaction
  • Help you manage activities of daily living
  • Contribute to improved patient care and shorter hospital stays

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What is Pain and Pain Assessment
Pain is your body's way of sending a message to your brain that something is wrong. Without treatment, nerve pathways send messages to your brain, increasing the body's response to pain. Sometimes pain may be an uncomfortable feeling that is similar to a headache. At other times, because of your illness or because of surgery, pain becomes severe and persistent. Your nurse and doctors will ask you about your pain because they want you to be comfortable. They want you to tell them anytime you have pain, especially if you have had medication for pain but have not gotten relief.

Your nurse and physician will ask you to rate your pain on a scale, using the numbers 0 to 10.

What Can Be Done to Treat Your Pain
Both medication and non-medication treatments can be successful in helping to prevent and control pain. You and your doctors and nurses will decide which ones are best for you.

  • Pain Medication: Your physician may prescribe medication to be taken by mouth or by injection. Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) is available for patients admitted to the Hospital. This medication is given intermittently or continuously through a small tube either in your vein (IV) or in a small space in your back (Epidural). Both methods allow self-medication with the push of a button.
  • Other Methods: Rest, relaxation and simple techniques such as deep breathing can increase your comfort. Cold packs, heat therapy, massage and nerve stimulation may also be ordered by your physician to help relieve pain.

After Surgery

In the event you have a concern/problem after discharge, do not hesitate to contact your surgeon. If it is after hours, the surgeon's office phone will have instructions on how to reach the on-call surgeon. If you feel you need urgent medical attention, go to the closest emergency room.

Frequently Asked Questions

For answers to the most common questions regarding your surgery preparation, please CLICK HERE.

We Are Most Thankful to Our Supporters

In 2016, the Virginia Hospital Center Department of Surgery was dedicated and renamed as The J. Della Ratta Family Center for Surgery. Press Release

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The Benefits of the Center for Surgery at Virginia Hospital Center

  • Top specialists in minimally invasive procedures such as laparoscopic and robotic surgery
  • The latest technology available to support desirable outcomes and shortened recovery periods
  • An exceptional nurse-to-patient ratio to facilitate high-quality patient care
  • Private rooms for pre-operative admission and post-operative recovery, designed to be spacious and comfortable for patients and their family members
  • Immediate access to the critical-care resources of the Hospital
  • Repeated success in patient satisfaction polls

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