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  • Discharge Instructions

  • Neurosurgery 

    Discharge Instructions

    Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion

    What to Expect

    Most people who have neck operations recover quickly and return home a day or so after the operation. Your doctor may give you a neck collar to wear after your surgery. Early in your recovery you should avoid heavy lifting. It is important, however, to avoid prolonged bed rest, which can lead to lung problems and blood clots in the legs. Taking walks, either outside or inside, and then lying down to rest is an excellent way to safely get the exercise you need. Your doctor will let you know when you can drive again and when you can return to work.

    Dos and Don'ts

    • Do not apply creams, lotions or ointments to your incision. Keeping the wound clean and dry will enable it to heal quickly.

    • You will be given some pain medication to take home with you. Many of these medications can occasionally cause stomach upset. Follow the medication instructions and let us know if you develop stomach pain or an upset stomach.

    • Smoking interferes with bone healing in addition to its other health risks. If you are having trouble quitting, discuss a smoking cessation program with your doctor.

    • Your neck incision was closed with buried stitches that will dissolve on their own. Keep the paper tapes over the wound dry for at least five days, although you can shower with a dressing over the wound. If your original bandage is still on the incision, you can remove it after five days. The paper tapes will curl up and fall off by themselves.

    • Your neck incision was closed with stitches and/or staples. You can shower if the wound is covered with a waterproof bandage.

    Contact us immediately if:

    • You develop weakness in your arms or legs or loss of bowel or bladder control.

    • You develop inability to swallow liquids or food which is worse than the sore throat you had immediately after the operation.

    • You develop swelling, redness or pain in your foot or leg. This could indicate a blood clot in the leg, a serious problem that may occur after surgery. Symptoms such as shortness of breath, severe chest pain or coughing up blood could be signs of a blood clot moving to the lung or another serious medical problem.

    • You develop redness, draining pus or fluid, or sudden swelling around your neck incision.

    The above symptoms are some of the most serious that may arise but do not include all potential post-operative problems. When in doubt, it is better to call and ask.

    Contact information and follow ups

    During business hours you should call your attending physician's office with any questions. For emergencies after business hours call 401-444-5611 and ask for the neurosurgical resident on call.

    Call your attending physician's office after you are discharged from the hospital to arrange for stitch/staple removal and necessary follow up appointments.

    You should also schedule a follow up appointment with your primary care physician. If you do not have a general doctor, you can call the Lifespan Heath Connection at 401-444-4800 for a referral.