Before Spine Surgery

Below are some important things to consider when you know you will be having spine surgery.

Scheduling Your Procedure

physician holding her glassesMake sure that you have made an appointment with your medical doctor and get the pre-surgery tests your doctor has ordered.

Laboratory Testing

If you go to an RWJBarnabas Health facility, your surgical team will be able to view your lab results. If you go to a laboratory other than an RWJBarnabas Health facility lab for pre-admission testing, you must sign a release form allowing the release of your records to the doctor’s office and hospital.

Medication Questions

You will need to stop all anti-inflammatory medications such as Motrin®, Advil, ibuprofen, naproxen and Vit E. as well as all cannabis products (CBD oil and medical marijuana). If you are taking a blood thinner (aspirin, Xarelto, Coumadin, Plavix or Eliquis), your doctor will give you special instructions for stopping the medication before surgery.

If you have a history of weight loss surgery or are taking weight loss medications, please inform your surgeon’s team prior to surgery. You may be asked to stop medication.

There are also herbal medications that can interfere with your other medications. Check with your doctor if you are taking any herbal medicines. (Examples of herbal medicines include, but are not limited to: Echinacea, ginkgo, ginseng, ginger, licorice, garlic, valerian, St. John’s wort, ephedra, goldenseal, feverfew, saw palmetto and kava-kava.)

See full list from your doctor for medications to stop prior to surgery.

Advance Directives

An Advance Directive is a way of telling all caregivers the patient’s wishes regarding health care. If a patient has a Living Will or has appointed a Health Care Agent and is not able to speak his or her wishes to the physician, family or hospital staff, the hospital is committed to honoring the wishes of the patient as they are documented at the time the patient was able to make those decisions.

There are different types of Advance Directives and you may wish to talk to your attorney about the legal implications of each.

  • Living Wills are written instructions that tell your wishes for health care if you have a terminal condition or coma and are not able to communicate.
  • Appointment of a health care agent (sometimes called a Medical Power of Attorney) is a document that lets you name a person (your agent) to make medical decisions for you, if you become unable to do so.
  • Health care instructions are your choices about use of life sustaining equipment, hydration and nutrition, and use of pain medications. When you get to the hospital, you will be asked if you have an Advance Directive. If you do, please bring copies of the documents to the hospital with you so they can become a part of your Medical Record. Advance Directives are not a requirement for hospital admission.

Stop Smoking

It is important to stop smoking before surgery. Smoking slows your healing and raises your risk of infection. Smoking can make the size of your blood vessels smaller and lessen the amount of oxygen in your blood. Smoking can also raise the chances of your blood clotting which can cause problems with your heart. Smoking raises your blood pressure and heart rate. If you quit smoking before you have surgery you will increase your ability to heal. You may also reach out to your surgeon for a referral to the Institute for Prevention and Recovery or call 833-795-QUIT.


It is also important to lower or stop your alcohol consumption before and after surgery. It also can slow down healing and raise your chances of problems after surgery.

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Patient Stories

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