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Abbott Northwestern Hospital

Surgical Services

Preparing for surgery

For more information,
call 612-863-3138.

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Thank you for trusting the experts at Abbott Northwestern Hospital with your care.

Here's how to get ready for your surgery...

As soon as you are scheduled

Once you and your doctor decide that you will have surgery, follow these instructions:

  • Make an appointment for a history and physical (H&P) examination. This examination must take place within thirty days of your procedure. Bring any information from your surgeon to this appointment so that your physician can appropriately prepare you for your procedure. Bring all your medications and all vitamin or herbal supplements to your appointment to discuss with your physician.
  • Arrange a ride home. If you will leave the hospital the day of your surgery, you must have a responsible adult with you at the hospital to drive you home. You should also plan to have a responsible adult in your home for the first 24 hours following your discharge after day surgery.
  • Complete the pre-registration process. You can pre-register online or call 612-262-7878 or 1-888-660-0014 (if you're outside the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN area). Someone from our Admitting Department may call you to confirm your demographic and insurance information.
  • Sign up for MyChart. MyChart provides online access once you get home to view the reason for your hospital visit, signs and symptoms that indicate a worsening in your condition, whom to call, and more.
a surgeon performs surgery in an operating room surrounded by surgical team members

What You Need to Know About Surgery

This manual can help ease your mind about having an operation by letting you know what to expect before surgery and after surgery.

Abbott Northwestern Hospital's Preoperative Care Center (POCC) is located in the lower level of the Piper Building at the corner of East 26th Street and 10th Avenue.

The morning of surgery


For more information,
call 612-863-3138.

  • What to bring to the hospital
    • your health care directive, if you have one
    • appropriate, comfortable clothing for discharge, taking into account casts, slings and movement restrictions
    • your CPAP machine, if you use one
  • What not to bring to the hospital
    • more than ten dollars in cash
    • valuables such as credit cards, cell phones or laptops
    • jewelry, including wedding rings and piercings; all jewelry must be removed prior to surgery
  • What to expect the morning of surgery
    • You are directed to the Preoperative Care Center from the admitting desk in the Piper Lobby. The Preoperative Care Center is located on the lower level of the Piper Building (campus map)
    • You are checked in at the reception area of the Preoperative Care Center.
    • You are called from the waiting area and escorted to a surgery preparation room.
  • What medications to take
    • Unless instructed otherwise by your primary physician or your surgeon, you should take your usual medications the morning of surgery. Pills should be taken with only enough water to swallow them.
    • If you regularly take any of the following medications, it is especially important that you take them the morning of your surgery:
      • long-acting narcotic pain medications
      • beta-blocker blood pressure medications
      • some cardiac medications
      • steroid medications
      • medications taken for seizures
      • medications taken for acid reflux disease
      • asthma medication.
    • What medications to avoid
      • In most cases, blood thinners such as coumadin (warfarin) and Plavix must be discontinued prior to surgery. Ask your surgeon and primary physician for specific instructions.
      • Certain herbal supplements should be avoided prior to surgery because they can increase bleeding.
  • What to eat and drink the morning of surgery
    • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery, unless you have been instructed otherwise by your primary physician or your surgeon.
    • "Nothing by mouth" means no gum, water, mints, candy or chewing tobacco. Your surgery will be delayed or cancelled if you do not follow the following rules:
      • no clear fluids or gum within two hours of surgery
      • no light meals, candy or chewing tobacco within six hours of surgery
      • no heavy or high-fat meals within eight hours of surgery.

Getting ready to go into the operating room

It is important that all members of your care team know about significant parts of your health history, such as medications, allergies, implants, and when you have last had something to eat or drink. Important information is recorded in your chart, but you may also be asked the same or similar questions by more than one of your caregivers.

  • You are weighed and asked to change into hospital gown and slippers. Your clothing is placed in a garment bag and taken to a locked closet area while you are in surgery.
  • Glasses, dentures and hearing aids are given to your family. (You are not to wear any jewelry or contact lenses to the hospital when you come. This includes wedding rings, body-piercing jewelry, hair pins, etc.)
  • Your blood pressure, heart rate, and preoperative information is checked by a Preoperative Care Center nurse.
  • You are met by the anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetist, operating room (OR) nurse, and your surgeon in Preoperative Care Center to discuss your anesthesia and surgery.
  • You are given the proper medication(s) intravenously (IV) which may include drugs to help you relax and prepare for anesthesia.
  • If you wish your family is called from the waiting room to be with you until it is time to bring you to the operating room (OR) if you wish.

While you are in the operating room

  • your family returns to the waiting area
  • you are asked to slide onto the operating room (OR) bed
  • you are connected to monitors that constantly display information, such as your heart and circulatory functioning
  • you are given a general anesthetic or medications to make you feel drowsy or go to sleep
  • most patients do not remember many of the events that occurred during the day of surgery, even if they seemed wide awake at the time.

After your surgery

Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)
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  • You are taken to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) where a registered nurse cares for you as the effects of anesthesia or sedation wear off.
  • Your nurse is at your bedside to help you. He or she will monitor you and treat pain or nausea, if present.
  • You may not remember many of the events on the day of surgery due to the medications administered, but don’t be alarmed if you experience this.
  • Understanding and remembering all the information you need to know after being discharged from a hospital after surgery, delivery or illness can be confusing. MyChart provides online access once you get home to view the reason for your hospital visit.

If you are going home on the day of your surgery

  • Arrange for a responsible adult to be present at the hospital during your surgery and to take you home if you are discharged on the same day as your surgery. You will not be allowed to drive yourself. If you have not made these arrangements prior to your arrival your surgical procedure may be cancelled. When you go home, a family member or friend should stay with you overnight.
  • You stay in the hospital until you are awake and pain and nausea is adequately controlled.
  • Your nurse goes over written home care instructions with you and the family member or friend who will be with you.
  • It’s important to have someone available to stay with you or to check on you the first 24 hours after your surgery.
  • A nurse will call you at home after surgery to check on your progress and answer any questions or concerns you may have.

If you are being admitted to the hospital

  • You remain in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) until you are ready to go to your room.
  • A staff member transports your belongings to your room.
  • Family and friends are welcome to visit you in your hospital room.
  • Your doctor writes orders for pain and nausea medication, which the nurses will administer.
  • Talk to your nurse if you are experiencing pain or nausea.
  • If you experience any problems, call your surgeon.