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How often will I be awakened and checked by a nurse after my surgery?

Dr. Robert W. Molinari

Rochester, NY

Nurses will typically check your vital signs every two hours for the first 24 hours following surgery.

Dr. Dennis G. Crandall

Mesa, AZ

For the first 12 hours, we will have the ICU nursing staff evaluate your neurologic status hourly. After a day or two, you are checked every 2 - 4 hours.

Dr. John T. Smith

University of Utah Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Nurses generally turn patients every two hours after surgery on the first day until the patients are able to move themselves. A number of monitoring devices, such as a pulse oximeter, to measure blood oxygenation and pulse, are in place to assist the nurse and to help assure that the patient is safe after the surgery.

Dr. Frank J. Schwab

New York, NY

After surgery you will be evaluated several times each hour by the recovery room nurse (approximately every 15 minutes). As you become more alert and are transferred to your regular room, the amount of time between nursing rounds will gradually increase from every hour, to every two hours, and then every four hours. A call bell will be located next to your bed, within your reach, so you can call the nurse at any time if you should need assistance.

Dr. James Mooney, III

Detroit, MI

You will be awakened and checked by the nurse every one or two hours for the first night after the surgery and then on a more routine basis after that point.

Dr. Scott J. Luhmann

St. Louis, MO

The first night is spent in an intensive care unit to closely monitor vital signs. This means you may be awakened every few hours; however, all attempts are made to minimize intrusions.

Dr. Baron S. Lonner

New York, NY

The first day, you will be checked every thirty minutes for the first several hours to be certain that your neurological status is unchanged. This is done as a precaution and it would be rare for your neurological status, your ability to move your arms and legs to change after surgery. After those first several hours, checks are done every two to four hours. You will be awakened one time during the evening only, so as not to interrupt your sleep, except when deemed necessary by special circumstances.

Dr. Robert S. Pashman

Los Angeles, CA

Our nurses check a patient every four to six hours for the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery and every six to eight hours after that. The nurses are looking for any changes in the patient’s logic functions, such as weakness or numbness, and continuously monitoring for vital signs.

Dr. David W. Polly, Jr.

Minneapolis, MN

Each hospital has it's own routine for checking on you. At first they look in on you more often, as you get better, they check on you less often.

Dr. Jean-Pierre C. Farcy

New York, NY
M.M.C. Spine Center

During the first 24 to 36 hours after surgery you will be checked every 3 to 4 hours.

Dr. Charles E. Johnston, II

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital Orthopedic Group

In the first 24 hours after surgery you will be monitored more or less continuously. After that your nurse checks at least every four hours until you are comfortable, eating, and ready to sit up or get out of bed.

Dr. John P. Lubicky

Chicago, IL
Shriner's Hospital for Children

This depends on what kind of surgery you have and how stable you are after the surgery. However, typically in the Intensive Care Unit you would be awakened more frequently, maybe every 15 minutes for a while, and then after that maybe every hour. The intervals between checking you will increase as the time from surgery increases.

Dr. Michael F. O'Brien

Denver Orthopaedics

This will depend on the size and type of the surgery undertaken. Typically for those patients with either a simple anterior or simple posterior procedure, the patient neurologic and vital signs will be checked every couple of hours. This will be done by either the floor nurses or the physicians involved in the care of the patient.

Dr. Thomas G. Lowe

Woodridge Orthopaedics & Spine Center, P.C.

You will be awakened and checked every 15-20 minutes the first 24 hours by a nurse and asked to bend your ankles up and down, bend your knees and hips and asked about feeling in your legs. After the first 24 hours, this would not be necessary. We also monitor the function of the nerves to your legs during the surgery electronically; this is called sensory evoked and motor evoked potentials.

Dr. Christopher L. Hamill

Buffalo General HospitalBuffalo General Hospital

We usually keep you in the ICU for about 24 hours then to a regular floor.

Dr. Stephen Ondra

Chicago, IL

At our institution, immediately after surgery the patients are checked on an hourly basis. After the first day, this will change to a 2-4 hour basis and after three days, it will be every 4 hours.

The commentary above recounts the experiences of these physicians. Medtronic invited them to share their stories candidly. Keep in mind that results vary; not every patient's response is the same. Talk with your doctor to learn more about any products that are mentioned above.

It is important that you discuss the potential risks, complications and benefits of spinal surgery with your doctor prior to receiving treatment, and that you rely on your doctor's judgment. Only your doctor can determine whether you are a suitable candidate for this treatment.

  • Published: June 20, 2002
  • Updated: April 19, 2010