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What to Expect Before, During and After Surgery

The surgical team at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center takes all possible measures to make sure that patients are fully ready for a surgery.

With our guide to surgery, patients and their families can know each step leading up to and after the surgery, along with facts about pre-op tests, surgical preparations and post-op care for when the patient returns home.

Knowing what to expect and how to prepare for surgery can help make the experience as seamless and stress-free as possible. Aids for patients and their loved ones include:

Pre-Surgery Evaluation: After Surgery Has Been Scheduled by Your Doctor

Your surgeon may ask that you visit the Center for Perioperative Medicine at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center for testing before your scheduled surgery. During this visit, the center’s expert medical team will look at all of your medical health problems, medicines and laboratory results, and make certain that you are ready for anesthesia and to undergo the surgery.

As part of the pre-surgery evaluation, you may have blood drawn, get an EKG, and/or have X-rays done. The medical team completing the pre-surgery evaluation may make recommendations for you to see other specialists, such as a heart doctor, before surgery. The team may also order new medicines or tell you to stop taking some medicines to prepare for the day of surgery.

Bring the following items for the Center for Perioperative Medicine visit:

  • A photo ID
  • A copy of your living will or durable power of attorney (if applicable)
  • Name and contact information for all doctors you see on a routine basis
  • A list of past surgeries
  • A list of current medications, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and herbal supplements
  • A list of questions about the surgery
  • Health plan card and related information

The day of the pre-surgery evaluation you should take medicines as prescribed by your doctor. You should eat breakfast or other regularly scheduled meals. Fasting is not required unless specified by the doctor.

Day Before Surgery

The day before surgery, you should receive a phone call from UH Cleveland Medical Center to inform you of the scheduled surgery time (some offices may ask you to call them). If you have not received a call by 3 p.m. the day before the procedure, call 1-866-UH4-CARE (1-866-844-2273) to find out the correct time to arrive.

Planning Ahead

  • If you are scheduled to go home on the same day as surgery, you must have a responsible adult to drive you home following your procedure.
  • We strongly suggest that a responsible adult be with you for the rest of the day and also the night following your procedure. This is for your protection and safety since you may not be as alert as usual.
  • Children under 12 years old are not allowed to visit in the surgery center.


Patients who are being admitted to the hospital overnight or longer may bring the following items with them:

  • Personal items: glasses, hearing aids, teeth, cosmetics. The hospital will provide toiletries, but you can also bring your own from home
  • Reading and writing materials: books, magazines, note cards, laptop computer
  • Music: CD, iPod, MP3 with earphones
  • Personal cell phone
  • A change of clothing to go home in
  • Key prosthetic devices or equipment: CPAP, prosthetic limbs. Be sure to label any such equipment with your name

The following items should not be brought to the hospital and/or sent home while you are admitted to the hospital:

  • Valuables: wallet, cash, and credit cards
  • Jewelry: you will not be able to keep jewelry on during surgery
  • Medical equipment: wheelchairs, walkers, oxygen tanks

University Hospitals cannot be responsible for lost or stolen personal belongings. You must put a lock on all your personal items. Locks can be purchased in the Atrium Gift Shop.

Day of Surgery

No Food or Drink

You should not drink or eat any food/candy or chew gum after midnight on the day of surgery. Your doctor should have informed you of any necessary medicines you will need to take the morning of surgery. These may be taken with sips of water only. You may brush your teeth on the day of surgery.

Items to Bring

  • Photo ID
  • Health plan card and related information
  • Name and contact information for all doctors seen on a routine basis
  • A list of current medications, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and herbal supplements
  • Copies of your Advance Directives (Durable Power of Attorney or Living Will) –if applicable
  • A list of questions about the surgery


Park in the UH Drive parking garage off of Euclid Avenue; there is a walkway on Level 2 of this garage which leads into the hospital. Please see attached map. On the day of surgery, each patient is given one pass for free parking.


You need to arrive at UH Cleveland Medical Center two hours before the scheduled procedure time and check in at the Patient Access Admitting Desk located on the just off of the Visitor Garage Bridge. After checking in, you will be directed to the surgery center waiting area.

Preoperative Holding Area

From the waiting room you will be brought back to a changing area to get into a hospital gown and have your belongings secured. After being placed on a bed in the preoperative holding area, a member from the anesthesia team and the surgical team, both of whom will be with you throughout the entire surgery, will greet and introduce themselves to you.

You will be asked questions about your medical history. You will notice that there are some questions that get asked several times by different health care team members; these questions are for your safety during the surgical process.

Team members might ask questions like:

  • Do you have any allergies?
  • What are we doing for you today?
  • Which side are we operating on?
  • Who is your surgeon?

A University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center surgical team member will officially review the surgery and ask the patient to sign a consent form, which allows the team to continue with the procedure.

Once all questions have been asked and the consent signed, two family members can sit with you until you go to surgery.

During Surgery

While you are in surgery your family will wait in the surgical waiting area. We will update your family every few hours. The surgeon will also speak to your family in the waiting room when surgery is done. The receptionist will tell your family when you have arrived in the recovery room.

Recovery Room

The Recovery Room is where you will receive care after surgery.

You can expect to stay in the recovery room at least 2 to 3 hours. In order to give you the necessary care and privacy, visitation is limited in the recovery room. Approximately two hours after you arrive in the recovery room, the nurse will give your family an update and discuss the plan for you to have visitors. Please know this allows the nurse time to address your needs after surgery.

If you are going to be admitted after surgery, your stay in recovery may be extended while awaiting a room. Sometimes these waits can be several hours, but during this time, our staff will provide excellent care and keep your family updated about your condition.

Pain Management

At some point, everyone experiences pain. You may experience pain as a result of your procedure or surgery. You will have your pain assessed frequently while with us. It is very important to talk with your nurses and doctors openly about your pain, so that you can receive prompt and proper treatment. It is important to know that most pain can be managed.

What You Can Do to Help Prevent a Surgical Site Infection

Before Surgery

  • Tell your doctor about other medical problems you may have.
  • Quit smoking. Patients who smoke get more infections, so talk to your doctor about how to quit smoking.
  • Do not shave near where you will have surgery. Shaving with a razor can irritate your skin and make it easier to develop an infection.
  • Take a bath and wash your hair the night before surgery.

After Surgery

  • Make sure health care providers clean their hands before caring for you, either with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
  • Family or friends visiting you should not touch the surgical site or dressings.

Family and friends visiting you should wash their hands before and after visiting.

At Home

  • Make sure you understand how to care for yourwound before leaving the hospital.
  • Always clean your hands before touching or caring for your wound.
  • Before leaving the hospital, make sure you know who to contact if you have questions or problems.
  • If you have any symptoms of infection, such as redness and pain at the surgery site, drainage, or fever, call your doctor immediately.