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Download Preoperative Instructions
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General flow of undergoing an operation

  1. Initial consultation

    1. History

    2. Examination

    3. Review of blood work & imaging​

  2. Pre-operative work-up or treatment

    1. Complete any further imaging required for the operation.

    2. Complete any tests to ensure the anaesthetic is safe.

    3. For tumour patients pre-operative chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments may be required. 

  3. Operation

    1. You will be admitted the day before surgery or the day of surgery.

    2. There may be some preparation required before surgery such as showering with special soap and a betadine ointment applied just before surgery.

    3. Often a premed is given which is a mild sedative to help you relax before coming to theatre​.

  4. Recovery in hospital

    1. After the operation you wake up from the anaesthetic in the Recovery Room where nurses keep a close eye on your vitals and help with any pain medication needs.

    2. For bigger surgeries you may spend a day or two in the high-care unit. It is possible to administer more complex pain treatment strategies like epidural catheters in high care where there is one to one nursing.

    3. After high-care or straight from the operating theatre you will be transferred to the general ward. At the Life Orthopaedic Hospital the ward is called Protea Ward. Here you will complete your in-hospital recovery. Usually this involves a post-operative x-ray of the area that was operated on to ensure that everything has been done satisfactorily. Also this is the time that you will meet the physiotherapists​ and start with your rehabilitation.

  5. Recovery at home

    1. Once you have recovered enough to be discharged you will be given a medication and rehabilitation plan to take home with you from the operating surgeon and any allied health practitioner that you have worked with. Appointments will also be made for your follow-up.​

  6. Follow-up

    1. This is variable between patients but usually includes a wound check 10 - 14 days post-operatively. This is usually a in and out consultation and is used just to check there are no problems with the wound and that you are coping at home. The 6 week post-operative assessment. is more thorough and addresses rehabilitation issues and x-rays are ordered as appropriate. This gives your condition time to plateau as there are many small changes that happen after surgery that settle over time. Usually any important problems that haven't settled can be addressed at this time. 

Physiotherapy protocols
Do's & Dont's before and after an operation


  • Eat well.

  • Keep fit is you are able. The fitter you are before surgery the fitter you will be afterwards. Consult our physiotherapists for advice on prehab!

  • Remove nail polish before surgery - it can prevent good readings when monitoring how much oxygen is in your blood.

  • Keep a list of your medications that you are on and bring them to your consultations. On occasion this can influence the timing of your operation and give us an idea of what pre-operative tests to do to make your anaesthetic and operation go well.


  • Shave before surgery. We will do this for you if necessary with clippers in theatre just before the operation.

  • Smoke up to 2 weeks before surgery - this adversely affects wound healing and the success of the surgery.

Wound care

  1. Keep the wound sealed with an adhesive dressing for 10 - 14 days after the surgery. The better made dressings allow showering.

  2. Apply a Micropore strip along the scar for 6 weeks from the time the stitches or dressing is removed. This is advisable to limited scarring.

  3. During this time keep the wound clean by washing with soap and water.

(Please complete our feedback form if you have any questions not addressed here.)

1. If I have a tumour, why do I need treatment before surgery? Why can I not get the tumour out as soon as possible?

Answer: Pre-operative or neoadjuvant radiotherapy or chemotherapy is useful to prevent spread of the tumour, to shrink the tumour and make surgery on the tumour easier. It also helps with prognosis and guiding post-operative or adjuvant chemotherapy.

2. Do I need to always complete my course of pain tablets and antibiotics?

Answer: ALWAYS complete your course of antibiotics that your doctor has prescribed for you. Pain treatment is more pragmatic. Immediately post-operatively it is better to maintain a good level of pain treatment but once you are home you may take treatment if and when you have pain.

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