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Q: What is orthopedic surgery?

A: Orthopedic surgery is used to repair injuries or conditions of the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves for people of all ages.

Q: What types of injuries and conditions do orthopedic surgeons treat?

A: Orthopedic surgeons provide treatment for an array of injuries and conditions, including:

  • Bone fractures
  • Joint dislocations
  • Torn ligaments
  • Joint and ligament sprains
  • Muscle and tendon strains
  • Pulled muscles
  • Bursitis
  • Ruptured discs
  • Sciatica
  • Low back pain
  • Scoliosis
  • Arthritis and osteoarthritis
  • Bunions
  • Hammertoes

Q: What is arthritis?

A: Arthritis is characterized by swelling, pain, and loss of motion in the joints. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is caused by an injury or years of overuse. Osteoarthritis occurs when the smooth cartilage within a joint wears out or is damaged by injury or disease.

Q: What is a joint?

A: Wherever two or more bones meet within your body, there is a joint. Your joints allow your bones and body to move, resulting in the bending of your knees, the rotation of your shoulders, the bending of your elbows, and movement of your hips.

Q: What should I wear to my surgery?

A: For your scheduled surgery, you should plan to wear loose, comfortable clothing and supportive, stable shoes. Please avoid wearing perfumes, lotions, and deodorants the morning of your procedure.

Q: Why can't I eat or drink prior to surgery?

A: It is very important to avoid eating or drinking prior to your surgery to protect your airway while you are under anesthesia.

Q: How should I get home?

A: If your procedure requires anesthesia, please make arrangements for a family member or friend to drive you home following your procedure. This person will also be responsible for receiving your discharge instructions and staying with you the night of your surgery.

Q: Who will be my anesthesiologist?

A: A team of anesthesiologists with Northwest Anesthesia Physicians, P.C., provides anesthesia services for the Slocum Surgery Center. Because of Slocum Surgery Center's team approach, you may have more than one anesthesiologist involved in your care. For instance, one anesthesiologist may prepare you by placing a nerve block before your surgery, and another may care for you during the procedure.

Q: When will I speak with an anesthesiologist?

A: One of the anesthesiologists will call you on the afternoon before your surgery (or on Friday afternoon for Monday surgeries). These calls are usually made between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m. Please be sure your physician has the correct phone number to reach you during these hours.

We will confirm your final check-in time, review eating and drinking instructions, and inform you of which medicines can be taken on the day of surgery. A recommended anesthetic plan will also be discussed with you. Please ask questions during this phone call.

On the day of surgery, there will be time to discuss any additional questions when the anesthesiologist prepares you for surgery.

Q: What kind of anesthesia will I get?

A: The anesthesiologist and patient determine the anesthetic plan with these goals in mind: safety, prevention of pain and side effects, early discharge to home, and patient satisfaction. During the phone call on the afternoon before surgery, that plan will be discussed and agreed upon. It will be reviewed again on the day of surgery if needed.

There are various types of anesthesia used for surgeries at Slocum. General anesthesia involves putting the whole body to sleep with medication given into a vein. Regional anesthesia numbs the part of the body to be operated on with nerve blocks. Local anesthesia involves numbing an area by direct injection of medicine at the site. Depending on the surgery being performed and the patient's preference, one of these techniques, or a combination of them, can be used.

Q: What is a block?

A: Many of the surgeries at Slocum Ambulatory Surgery Center use nerve blocks as a significant part of the pain control plan. A nerve block is intended to numb only the area having surgery. It is performed by injecting local anesthetic medicine around the nerves that supply feeling to that area of the body. If you are having surgery on your wrist, for instance, the nerve block might be performed under your arm, thus numbing your entire arm and wrist.

State-of-the-art ultrasound imaging technology is used to assist in placing nerve blocks.

Q: How long does a nerve block last?

A: Nerve blocks can last from several hours to several days. A single shot block may last 14-24 hours. A continuous nerve block delivered by catheter is designed to run for 48-60 hours. The block usually wears off a few hours after that time frame.

Q: What are the advantages and risks of a block?

A: The advantages of a nerve block may include a shorter recovery period and better pain relief after your operation, permitting you to become mobile more quickly. It may also reduce the need for strong pain medications, thus minimizing the risk for side effects.

The risks of nerve blocks include the rare possibility of nerve injury, which in most cases is temporary and resolves over several days or weeks. Permanent nerve damage is extremely rare. If you have certain risk factors, like diabetes or an existing neuropathic condition, then there may be an increased risk. Please review these risk factors with your doctor before undergoing surgery.