Surgery Instructions

Pre-Admission Testing

Before your scheduled surgery, you will need to make an appointment for pre-admission testing. Your primary care physician may conduct your pre-admission testing, unless your surgeon has requested that your testing be performed at MedStar Harbor Hospital.

If your pre-admission testing will be conducted at MedStar Harbor Hospital, please call the ambulatory testing center to make an appointment. During your appointment, all requested lab tests will be performed, so your surgeon will have an opportunity to review the results prior to your surgery. We try to complete all testing within one hour. At this time, a nurse will help answer your questions and prepare you for your upcoming procedure. You may eat and take all regular medications on the day of your testing unless your surgeon requests otherwise.

If your pre-admission testing is performed by your primary care physician or at another facility, have all test results faxed to MedStar Harbor Hospital no later than three days prior to your surgery. The department of anesthesiology, along with your physician and surgeon, will review the results of your pre-admission testing and make arrangements for additional consultations or testing as needed to ensure your safety and comfort. If your surgery is cancelled or you are unable to keep an appointment, please contact ambulatory testing at 410-350-3872 to cancel or reschedule.

If you have any questions or concerns about your surgery, please contact the ambulatory testing center weekdays between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Prior to Surgery

  • Unless otherwise directed by your surgeon, stop aspirin and aspirin-containing medications seven days before the date of your procedure. If your are taking Coumadin or other blood thinners, your surgeon will give you specific instructions for stopping this medication.
  • For children and infants, no solid food or formula for six hours prior to surgery. However, they may have small amounts of clear liquids up to three hours before surgery.
  • Unless otherwise instructed, you may have clear liquids, tea, black coffee, apple juice and Jello up to four hours before your surgery. Milk and other juices are not permitted. No alcohol for 24 hours before your surgery.
  • Make arrangements for a family member or friend to take you home after your surgery.
  • If you do not have health insurance, please contact Financial Counseling at 410-350-3808 for assistance.

Day of Surgery

Please follow all of these instructions so your surgery may be performed as scheduled.

  • If you are instructed to do so, bring all current medications with you.
  • Bring your insurance card(s), identification and receipts for any pre-payments.
  • Do not wear cosmetics, body creams or lotions.
  • Do not bring large amounts of cash or valuables with you. Also remove all jewelry, including any body piercings.
  • Unless they are patients, do not bring children with you.


Upon arriving at MedStar Harbor Hospital, please report to:

  • The Ambulatory Testing Center, if blood tests are requested.
  • Same Day Surgery, if blood tests have not been requested. Same Day Surgery is located on the second floor of the hospital, room north main 208. Take the elevator to the second floor, turn right and follow the hallway to the right. The waiting area is located on the right side of the hall.

View a map for directions 

Inpatient Care

For those patients who need to be admitted to the hospital for, during and after their surgeries, MedStar Harbor Hospital offers many services including:

  • Acute pain management to aggressively treat postoperative pain with a variety of effective techniques.
  • Surgical intensive care unit to meet the special needs of postoperative patients.
  • Twenty-four hour in-house surgical coverage on standby for any unexpected surgical needs you may have after your procedure.

About Your Room

With the exception of the intensive care unit, patient rooms at MedStar Harbor Hospital are either semiprivate or private. The number of private rooms is limited, but we make every effort to honor your request depending on availability. Wireless internet, television and local telephone service are offered free of charge.

  • Permitted Electrical Appliances
    Small battery-powered devices, such as clocks, radios and cd players, are generally allowed. You are encouraged to use earphones with radios and cd players to avoid disturbing other patients or staff members. Most electric shavers, hair dryers and curling irons are permitted. All such devices must have a "UL" label, cannot have frayed cords and must remain unplugged when not in use.
  • Prohibited Devices
    Some devices may interfere with the operation of medical equipment, or a medication you are given may affect your ability to use an appliance safely, so they are not allowed. They include:

    • Cellular phones - Due to the sensitive nature of some medical equipment, cellular phones are not permitted to be used in certain areas of the hospital
    • Extension cords
    • Heating devices of any type, including electric heating pads or blankets
    • Household appliances, including coffee pots and coffee makers

Anesthesia and Managing Pain After Surgery


Prior to your procedure, your anesthesia provider will review the results of your ambulatory tests with you, and conduct a personalized anesthesia assessment with a review of your anesthesia options.

On the day of surgery, you will have an IV (intravenous) tube placed in your arm to receive necessary medications. In the operating room, an anesthesiologist will deliver pain medication and administer anesthesia, which will keep you comfortable during the surgery. General and regional anesthesia are options you can discuss with your surgeon prior to surgery. Regional anesthesia is preferred for its ability to provide pain relief both during and after surgery. However, the anesthesiologist will make the final decision based on your particular medical circumstances. Once the anesthesia takes effect, an orthopaedic nurse will wash the area to be operated on with a special sterilizing solution. A urinary catheter may be inserted and compression stockings may be placed on both legs to decrease the risk of blood clots.

An anesthesia provider also will be present for the entire length of your procedure to ensure your comfort and safety. Once your surgery is complete, you will be taken to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit to recover from the effects of anesthesia.

Managing Pain After Surgery

Pain is treated in several ways depending on your needs.

  • Epidural pain control is the most effective method of controlling most forms of post surgical pain. To manage your pain, a catheter will be placed in your lower back through which, constant small amounts of pain medication will be administered into your body.
  • Intravenous Patient Controlled Analgesia (IV PCA) is used when the surgery performed or a medical condition prohibits the use of epidural pain control. IV PCA administers small amounts of pain medication through an IV.

If your anesthesiologist determines that the above procedures are unsuitable for you, traditional pain injections may be administered to manage your pain.

Regardless of which method of pain relief is best for you, the use of sophisticated technology and knowledge will ensure that your discomfort after surgery will be minimal.