Your Surgery & Hospitalization: What to Expect | Otolaryngology | Dartmouth-Hitchcock
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Your Surgery & Hospitalization: What to Expect

The day of surgery

  1. At your assigned time, go to the Same Day Program on the 4th floor. It is best to park in the parking garage. You will enter on Level 4. Same Day Surgery is located at 4V.
  2. You will be asked to remove:
    • All jewelry except your wedding band, which can be taped to your finger
    • Dentures or partial plates
    • Contact lenses and eyeglasses
    • Hair pieces
    • Cosmetics and nail polish
  3. You will be asked to put on a hospital gown and remove all other clothing.
  4. You will have an IV placed in your arm. We will also place a Scopolamine patch behind your ear.  This is an anti-nausea medication that will help you after surgery.
  5. An Anesthesiologist will meet with you to discuss your anesthesia.
  6. A small area of your hair will be shaved behind your ear. Your whole head will not be shaved unless you request it. 

After surgery

  • You will be taken to the recovery room or Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), and then to the Neurosurgical Unit on Level 5 once you have woken up.  
  • Nausea and dizziness are common symptoms after surgery. You will have anti-nausea medications ordered, as well as the scopolamine patch behind your ear.
  • You will also feel better with low lighting and less visual stimulation. Feel free to ask your nurse to close your curtains and reduce lighting in your room, to reduce this stimulation. This will help with feelings of nausea and dizziness.
  • You may be unable to fully close your eye and have facial weakness following surgery. This is usually temporary and improves with time. It is important to protect your eye from damage. See Eye Care Instructions for more information.
  • You will have a tight gauze bandage wrapped around your head and behind your ear. This dressing reduces swelling and keeps your incision site sterile.  
  • For some types of surgeries, you will have a lumbar drain, which is a small tube placed at your low back, which helps to drain spinal fluid during your healing.  
  • You will be able to start drinking and eating the morning after surgery. 
  • You will begin walking on the morning after surgery. You will need assistance for your balance at first.  Walking is important to reduce risk of blood clots, pneumonia, and other infections. It also will help you to feel less dizzy. Rehabilitation therapy may be ordered if you are having a lot of problems with balance or with self-care.

Discharge

Your hospital stay is typically 3-4 days. You should plan on having a ride come pick you up. Most people leave the hospital by mid-morning. 

  • You will be walking independently for short distances, urinating on your own, taking in oral foods and liquids, and pain and nausea managed with medications.  
  • You may or may not move your bowels prior to discharge, but you will be taking stool softeners to prevent constipation, which is common after surgery.  
  • You will be sent home with a dressing which is to stay on until your follow-up appointment in 1 week after discharge. 
  • You will be sent home with a prescription for pain medication and anti-nausea medication if needed.  
  • You may also go home with a tapering schedule of dexamethasone, which is a steroid medication used to reduce swelling in the surgical area. This medication cannot be stopped abruptly; follow the tapering scheduled printed on your prescription. Take your first dose at 8 am, and your second dose at 2 pm, as this medication can interfere with sleep if taken right before bedtime.
  • If you have chosen to quit smoking while in the hospital, let us know. We will provide you with prescription for nicotine replacement medications and other resources such as the NH/VT Quit Line, which is a support line for people who wish to or have quit smoking.
  • You may have a medication patch behind your ear when you go home. This medication is used during the days after surgery to help with dizziness and nausea. You will no longer need it when you go home, so you may remove the patch if it is still behind your ear.
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