Skip to Content

The Day of Your Surgery

Pre-Operative Procedure | Holding Area | Anesthesia | Operating Room | Recovery Room | Discharge

Please arrive at the ambulatory surgery (also called same day surgery) patient registration area at your designated admission time. This will usually be 1 ½ hours before surgery is scheduled.
If you are running late, please call the Ambulatory Surgery Unit.

Pre-Operative Procedure

Once you have changed into a surgical gown, the nurse will check vital signs, attach your ID band to your arm and answer any last-minute questions you may have about your surgical preparation. If you have not already done so, you will need to sign your consent for surgery. When the operating room (OR) is ready for you a transporter will arrive at the door with a cart to move you to the holding area. At this time, please empty your bladder and remove your dentures, glasses and undergarments.

Your family and friends will be directed to a waiting area and will receive information from the surgeon after your procedure is completed. A volunteer is available if you have questions.

Holding Area

The holding area is a designated room for surgical patients. You will meet your surgical team in this area. The nurse will check your ID band and chart and ask you about your surgical preparation.


Anesthesia is a crucial part of your surgical procedure. An anesthesiologist will discuss with you the anesthetic to be used.

There are four basic types of anesthesia:

  1. General Anesthesia: Puts you to sleep throughout your surgery.
  2. Spinal Anesthesia/Epidural Anesthesia: Anesthetizes you from the waist down. You will also receive sedation.
  3. Regional Anesthesia: Anesthetizes the part of your body where surgery is to take place, such as an arm, hand or leg. You will also receive sedation.
  4. Sedation/Local Anesthesia (MAC): Sedation is administered to you through an intravenous catheter while the surgeon administers a local anesthetic around your surgical site to numb the area.

The type of anesthesia you will receive is a decision made by you, your surgeon and your anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist will interview you and review your medical history and laboratory tests. 

Preparation for anesthesia and your safety are the anesthesiologist’s primary concerns.  It is important to report any changes in your physical condition after your pre-admission testing has been completed. The anesthesiologist is available to answer your questions.

Staff will insert an intravenous catheter (IV). At this time, the surgeon’s assistant or a resident may visit you.  Depending on your anesthesia, a small amount of antacid may be given to you by mouth. If needed, a mild sedative will be given through the IV line to help you relax.

Operating Room

When preparation is complete, you will be transported on the cart to the OR.

Once inside the OR, you will be assisted to the OR table. The table is hard and narrow. Since the table is narrow, a safety belt will be placed over your legs and abdomen. Your arms will be positioned on arm boards.

Heart leads will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart rate, and a blood pressure cuff will be applied to your arm.

The surgical team will be wearing masks, gowns and caps. Your surgeon and his/her assistants will be present along with your anesthesiologist. Next, you will receive oxygen by mask and IV medication.

Recovery Room

When the surgery is complete, you will be transferred to the recovery room.  In some cases you will come directly back to Ambulatory Surgery. In the recovery room, you may awaken to a cool mist on your face. The mist is from either an oxygen mask or nasal tube providing oxygen. You also will feel pressure on your arm from a blood pressure cuff.

At regular intervals, the nurses will monitor your vital signspulse and respiration rate, blood pressure and temperature.

The recovery room is set at a cool temperature, the nurse can provide warm blankets if you are cold. Also, let the nurse know if you are experiencing pain or nausea.

Most patients remain in the recovery room for at least an hour. You will be transferred out of the recovery room when an anesthesiologist determines you have satisfactorily recovered from the anesthesia.

Next, a transporter will move you on a cart to your post-operative room. Patients receiving 23-Hour observation and A.M. admissions care are admitted to the hospital. Outpatients will return to their Ambulatory Surgery room for the remainder of their recovery period. 


In your post-operative room, the nurse will take your vital signs and evaluate your IV, surgical site and your recovery from the anesthesia. Your family and friends may see you after this assessment is complete.

If you experience discomfort, nausea, chills or a sore throat after surgery, please notify your nurse so appropriate medication or treatment can be administered.

The anesthesia may make you feel dizzy and unsteady. Ask for assistance when getting out of bed for the first time or whenever you need help.

At discharge, your nurse will review your surgeon’s written discharge instructions. It is important that you understand these instructions so that you know what to expect when you are at home. Please ask the nurse to clarify any information you do not understand. 

Prior to discharge, you must:

  • Have stable vital signs
  • Have adequate pain control
  • Tolerate fluids
  • Walk without dizziness
  • Have a responsible adult take you home
  • For some procedures, you must urinate

Your IV will be removed when you are able to complete these tasks.