Q: What are the chances of dying or being paralyzed after surgery?
A: The chances of either are very low.
Q: Who will be doing my operation?
A: I, Dr. Buckley , will be preforming the operation. One of my Physician Assistants, Brian Berry or Stephanie Higby will aid me. Brian Berry has been working by my side for the past 12 years and Stephanie Higby has been with me for the past 6 years. There will also be an anesthesiologist, x-ray technician, and at least two nurses.
Q: How long is the hospital stay?
A: It depends on the type of surgery you have…
- Anterior Cervical Fusion and Lumbar Discectomy- can go home the day of surgery or the next day
- Lumbar Fusion and Posterior Cervical Fusion- can go home usually 2 days after surgery
- Kyphoplasty or SI Joint Fusion- can go home the day after surgery
Q: How soon after surgery will I be up walking around?
A: You will be up out of bed the same day of surgery.
Q: How much walking can I do after surgery?
A: We want you walking 2-3 miles per day. You will gradually build up to this. Each day you will be able to walk a bit further than the day before.
Q: When can I drive after surgery?
A: You can drive 2 weeks after surgery.
Q: When do I start physical therapy after surgery?
A: To begin with we just want you walking. Some patients need physical therapy , some patients do not. If physical therapy is needed it will start 6-8 weeks after surgery.
Q: How much pain can I expect after surgery?
A: Everyone handles pain differently. We take a lot of effort to minimize post-operative pain. The first night is usually the most difficult and each day after that gets better.
- Neck Surgery: Of course you have neck pain that can radiate to the top of the shoulders and upper back. Sometimes you may experience trouble swallowing and stiffness in your neck from wearing the collar.
- Lumbar Surgery: Usually your back pain is increased for a period of time.
Q: How long after surgery will my symptoms be gone?
A: People usually fall into 3 categories…
- When you wake up all your symptoms are gone and you just have post-operative pain.
- Your symptoms are lessened and as time goes on they resolve.
- You have the same symptoms and with time they resolve.
So, don’t be alarmed if your symptoms are not resolved right away. Our nerves are one of the slowest healing parts of our bodies. Our bodies can never completely heal a nerve. So therefore you may always have some symptoms. It will take ONE year after surgery to see what symptoms you may be left with.
Q: When will my sutures or staples come out?
A: Two weeks after surgery (unless you have a carpal tunnel release and in that case it will be one week).
Q: What are the chances of getting an infection?
A: The national average for infection after spine surgery is 2%. Our rate of infection is 0.2%.
Q: When can I go back to work?
A: It depends on the type of job you are returning to, but usually 6-8 weeks.
Q: What medications will I take after surgery?
A: This varies from patient to patient. It depends on the patient’s allergies and what you are on prior to surgery. All patients will be sent home on antibiotics for 5 days to prevent infection. Most patients receive a script for hydrocodone after surgery for pain. If you are on stronger pain medications prior to surgery usually we make arrangements with the doctor prescribing them to you to continue the medications and adjust them as needed.
Q: How do I know if I need surgery?
A: Most people have findings on their MRI/CT Scan/X-ray that can be surgically corrected, but this does not mean that you need surgery. We treat the patient and not just the radiology findings. Your history, physical exam, radiology findings, and symptoms are taken into account. There are a few spinal emergencies that require surgery right away. Otherwise we suggest surgery after you have failed all conservative treatments and can no longer take the pain. Only you know how much pain you can handle and how the pain is interfering with your daily life.
Q: I am worried about surgery. Is this normal?
A: It is completely normal to be worried about surgery. Even the most prepared person still has some anxiety. We have a list of patients who had the same surgery that you will be undergoing and we can put you in contact with them. Also Dr. Buckley or one of his physician assistants Brian Berry or Stephanie Higby are available to answer any questions you may have. You can come in for as many appointments as you like to discuss things.
Q: How should I prepare for surgery?
A: Our surgery nurse will go over all your pre-operative instructions with you. She will also set up all your appointments. She is available during office hours for any questions you might have. It is important to stop all anti-inflammatories and blood thinner medications 2 weeks before surgery. Also if you develop a cold, a rash, or just do not feel right, call the office right away (315) 824-1250.