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Preparing for Orthopedic Surgery

The results of your orthopedic surgery aren’t entirely based on the performance of your orthopedic surgeon. There are several patient-related factors that can improve your chance for having a successful and safe procedure. In fact, there are several conditions that may preclude your from undergoing orthopedic surgery, even if it’s the best solution for your injuries or conditions.

Why Can’t I Undergo Orthopedic Surgery

Your health and wellness will have an impact on your recovery, but having particularly bad health or dangerous conditions may make you entirely ineligible for surgery. Your safety is of utmost to your surgeons and doctors, and if they think there’s undue risk they won’t feel comfortable moving forward with surgery.

Obesity, Diet and Physical Condition

Whether or not it is safe to perform orthopedic surgery on patients who are obese or morbidly obese depends on the patient’s overall health, but in many cases, the risk is simply too great. Patients who are severely overweight have a significantly increased risk for complications like infections, blood clots and heart attack.

Your orthopedic surgeon may strongly recommend losing weight prior to your surgery, or they may say they simply can’t do your surgery at all given your condition.

Another condition closely linked to obesity – sleep apnea – also makes surgery more dangerous. Patients with sleep apnea have an elevated risk for heart attack or cardiac issues during surgery. If you suffer from sleep apnea or suspect you do it is important you discuss this with your physician prior to surgery.

Diet and nutrition also play a role in your health going into surgery, as well as the speediness and effectiveness of your recovery. You may want to discuss nutrition with our naturopathic specialist in advance of your surgery. Our naturopath also helps patients lose weight and make the lifestyle changes necessary to qualify for surgery.

Your strength and endurance will impact your rate of recovery as well. Being injured or suffering a condition like osteoarthritis is a slippery slope. You may no longer be able to maintain the same level of activity you could prior to your injury or joint condition, so you may need to discuss your options for improving your physical condition with a physical therapy specialist prior to undergoing surgery.

If you’re a Desert Orthopedic Specialists patient, you can rest assured that we will do everything we can to help you get into the shape necessary to safely undergo orthopedic surgery. Providing nutritional guidance, weight loss assistance and strengthening plans is one of our specialties.

Many patients are in similar situations. Finding out you’re not healthy enough for surgery is more common than you may think. We’ve developed programs specifically tailored to help people facing these struggles.


Studies have shown that smokers are more likely to suffer surgical complications, including heart attack, stroke, pneumonia and infections, than non-smokers. Continuing to smoke after an injury or surgery may even slow the healing process, which is vital for joint replacement surgeries. If you are a smoker who needs orthopedic surgery, it is highly recommended that you quit smoking prior to your procedure.

Limited Mobility and Memory Impairments

Patients with conditions like Parkinson’s disease or other movement disorders that put them at risk for falls will have a significantly elevated risk for postoperative falls.

Patients who suffer from memory impairments can suffer confusion after surgery, or a potential worsening of symptoms after anesthesia. If you or a loved one are suffering from memory impairment issues, it is of vital importance you discuss those conditions with your specialists, primary care physician and surgeon prior to your procedure. Understanding the risks and making informed decisions is an important part of your care plan at Desert Orthopedic Specialists.

Quick Tips for Total Joint Replacement Surgery Preparation

  • Think ahead and make plans beforehand – schedule time off work, arrange for help with household chores, invite your children or a friend to come stay with you for assistance, etc.
  • Ask any and all questions you have ahead of the operation day so you feel comfortable going into surgery.
  • Gather all your insurance information, emergency contact information and anything else you may need before you leave for the hospital.
  • Prepare your home and recovery area before you leave for the hospital so it’s optimized for your recovery. Keep in mind that your mobility will be limited for a while.
  • Talk to your doctor and physical therapist about the exercises you’ll need to do during recovery so you can get to know them and practice performing them properly before your post-operative recovery begins.

Cleaning the Surgical Site

Although not always at the tops of people’s minds when they are about to undergo surgery, it is important to ensure the skin of the surgical site is as healthy as possible. It’s recommended to avoid shaving the surgical site for two weeks before the surgery date to avoid any damage from abrasion.

In most cases, removing hair from the surgical site is only necessary if the hair is at risk of directly interfering with the procedure. If hair removal is necessary, it’s best to let the surgeon decide on the method to avoid potential skin abrasions. Even small nicks in the skin can increase the risk for infection.

On the day of your surgery, wash the surgical site with chlorhexidine soap multiple times to disinfect it as much as possible.

Both of these steps will help reduce your risk for post-operative infections.

Fasting Before Surgery

Most surgeons will recommend not eating anything after midnight on the night before your surgery. If you have a morning surgery, that directive is usually fine. It can be harder to stick to if your procedure is scheduled for the afternoon.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists have slightly adjusted their suggested guidelines in recent years. They suggest eating no heavy meals, including fried foods and meat, eight hours prior to surgery. A very light snack, such as a piece of toast, can be eaten up to six hours prior to surgery. Clear liquids like water or pulp-free juice can be drunk up until two hours prior to surgery.

The fasting is to prevent pulmonary aspiration, which occurs when the stomach’s contents enter the lungs. Pulmonary aspiration could block airflow or cause an infection like pneumonia.

It’s important to closely follow whatever instructions your physician gives you in regard to your specific situation. If they say it’s important for you to eat or drink nothing after midnight, you should plan on following those instructions.

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We are dedicated to helping patients realize the potential the human body has to heal itself if given the proper nurturing, nutrition and modern orthopedic care.