If, after consulting with your hand surgeon, you decide to proceed with surgery, your surgeon will explain the specific procedure (including its risks and benefits, and what outcome you can expect), pre-operative and post-operative processes, and your next steps.
If you are a public patient, you will be added to the public waiting list. How long you wait for surgery will depend upon the length of the waiting list at the hospital at which your surgery will be performed. The hospital will contact you with information on admission and how to prepare for your surgery.
If you are a private patient, your surgeon will obtain your consent in writing to the procedure, provide you with a hospital admission form and other necessary documentation, and offer you a range of dates for surgery. You should return your completed hospital forms at least 48 hours prior to admission. The hospital will generally contact you on the business day before your surgery to confirm your admission and explain what you need to do.
In general, there are a number of things you can do to prepare for your surgery:
- Work with your surgeon
- Your surgeon will have taken a medical history during your initial consultation. He or she will use this to determine your general medical condition and ensure that there are no issues that might impact on your surgery. He or she may ask for results of prior diagnostic tests, or order new tests. It is important that you comply with any requests for tests, x-rays or scans prior to surgery.
- Tell your surgeon about any medications, vitamins and/or supplements you are taking, and any other treatments you may be undergoing. Some medications or treatments may need to be stopped prior to surgery.
- Tell your surgeon about any allergies you may have, particularly drug allergies.
- If you smoke, stop or cut down. This will reduce your risks during surgery and improve your recovery.
- If at any time between your final pre-surgery consultation and the date on which your surgery is scheduled, you become ill (especially with an infectious illness), develop an infection or sustain a serious injury (especially one involving an open wound or broken bone), call your surgeon to check that your surgery will not be affected.
- Ask your surgeon what to expect immediately following surgery. You may have to keep your hand and arm immobilized/in a sling/dry for a period of time. You will probably not be able to work or perform basic household duties for a week or two. You will need to allow for these eventualities in your planning.
- Plan for your procedure
- Arrange for someone to drive you home from the hospital. You will not be able to drive for a period following surgery, and the hospital will usually not allow you to leave unaccompanied if you have had a general anaesthetic.
- Arrange for somebody to be with you for several hours at least after you return home. Many people experience nausea and vomiting after a general anaesthetic, and it helpful to have another person nearby.
- Depending on the procedure that you have, you may require help with general household tasks for several days following your surgery. If you can, arrange to have somebody assist you.
- Fast for six hours before your surgery.
- Have a shower the morning of surgery. Use an antiseptic or antimicrobial wash (eg Phisohex) if you can. Do not use a razor as you may cut yourself. Even superficial cuts may become infected and affect your surgery.
- Be aware that following your surgery you may be nauseous. Plan to have a light meal on the evening of your surgery and avoid rich and greasy foods for 24 hours.
- Be aware that you will likely experience discomfort or pain following your surgery. You will usually be given pain medication after your surgery. Take it as directed.