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Preparing for Surgery at VCU Health

Planning for your surgery.

Before you have a surgical procedure at VCU Health, we will need to review your medical history, conduct a health screening, and educate you on how to prepare for your surgery – and recover from it.

All patients undergo a Preoperative Assessment Communication Education (PACE). This session may involve a visit to our clinic downtown or at Short Pump. If you are healthy or having low-risk surgery, a screening telephone call may be all that is needed.

Before Visiting the PACE Clinic, be sure to complete our medical history form.

If you visit at PACE clinic, you will meet with a nurse, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant who will update your medical records. You should bring results of any recent blood tests or heart studies or other investigations that were completed outside of VCU Health.

PACE sessions include information on:

  • your general health and fitness
  • serious illnesses
  • allergies
  • family history of major health issues
  • problems with anesthesia
  • vital signs

Some patients may need additional tests that include:

  • Blood tests (blood count, blood clotting studies, blood type and screening of your blood chemistry)
  • Urine test (to exclude infections, which may need treated before surgery)
  • Nose swabs taken for MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus), a type of bacteria which can cause troublesome wound infections.
  • An electrocardiogram (ECG) to record the rate, rhythm and electrical activity of your heart. You will need to partially undress for this, loosening your shirt or blouse.

The results of these tests will be available on the My VCU Health portal.

PACE Clinic locations:

Surgery Tips

Your health care team will provide you with personalized information that you will need to know about your surgery, including what you can (or cannot) eat or drink before and after your procedure, the type of anesthesia you will be given, medications for pain relief, and the recovery process. In general, here are some things to know about surgery at VCU Health:

Before surgery: Prior to surgery, we will give you specific instructions on what you are able to eat or drink. One of our PACE Center nurses will call you the day before surgery, or on a Friday for Monday surgery. Download this document to help take notes during the phone call.

In addition, your surgeon and anesthesiologist will talk with you about how we will numb any pain during surgery. Anesthesia comes in many forms and will vary depending on your health and the type of surgery you require.

  • General anesthesia will put you to sleep for the course of the surgery, and usually involves a breathing tube.
  • Regional anesthesia involves a spinal, epidural or other nerve blocks at the site of the surgery. You will remain awake.
  • You may be sedated – not fully asleep, but highly relaxed, possibly unable to talk, and not fully aware of what’s happening around you.

Download our guide to controlling and managing pain after surgery.

After surgery: Certain surgeries require medication for pain relief and help you move and breathe more easily, sleep better, recover faster, and get back to your normal routine. We highly monitor your medication intake to ensure you are taking them as prescribed to remove any risk of addiction. For some surgeries, you may also require occupational, physical or speech therapy. If you are experiencing pain any time after surgery, be sure to tell us.

Going home: You must have someone to take you home after surgery, and if not, your procedure will be canceled. Be sure to prepare your home for your recovery. You may need more help for the first 48 hours – or longer – from friends or family with meals, laundry, bathing, cleaning and care of small children.