During scoliosis surgery

PDF download is not available for Arabic and Urdu languages at this time. Please use the browser print function instead

Find out what happens when a patient enters the operating room to when they are moved into their room. A guide for what to expect during scoliosis surgery.

Key points

  • In the operating room, the anaesthetist will give you anaesthesia through a needle or mask.
  • A large bandage will be placed on your back after surgery and you will be moved into the recovery room.
  • Most teens do not experience complications after scoliosis surgery.

In these examples, teens share their impressions of the operating room and their memories of receiving an anaesthetic.

In the operating room

Posterior Spinal Fusion

An animated guide of the steps of posterior spinal fusion.

When you arrive in the operating room, the nurse will help you settle in.

Here is what one teen thought of the operating room:

"I thought it was going to be way scarier. I didn’t know what the operating room was going to look like. I thought it would be like it was on TV. Like the big room with one little bed and everyone staring at you. But it wasn’t like that at all. It was freezing cold though. They gave me my teddy bear and I had it in my arms when I fell asleep. When I woke up, it was still in my arms. It was really good."

Receiving your sleep medicine

The anaesthetist will give you the sleep medicine, which is called anaesthetic. You can choose to receive the sleep medicine through an intravenous needle or a mask.

Here is what one teen thought about getting anaesthetic through a needle:

"I had a needle to go to sleep and it happened pretty quickly. It wasn’t scary because I didn’t feel it happening. The nurses talked to me until I was asleep."

This is what another teen thought about getting anaesthetic through a mask:

"I had a mask on my face. It happened so quickly. I was counting backwards from 100 and I don’t even remember saying 98."

The medicine will not wear off so you will not wake up during the surgery. The anaesthetist will give you medicine to bring you out of the anaesthetic when the surgery is over.

Here is what one teen learned about anaesthetic:

"They don’t just give you the sleeping gas just once and hope it keeps you asleep the entire surgery. They actually give you multiple doses as it progresses. There’s actually a person whose entire job is to make sure you don’t wake up."

After the surgery

When the surgery is complete, the doctors will stitch you up and the nurses will put a large bandage on your back. While still in the operating room, the doctors will place you on your bed lying on your back. This is to put pressure on your incision to help stop the bleeding. This works in the same way as when you have a cut and it is bleeding: you apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Then the anaesthetist will bring you out of the anaesthetic, which will wake you up. The nurses will move you in your bed from the operating room to the recovery room.

Will there be complications?

Most teens do not have any complications after scoliosis surgery. However, it is important to know that complications are possible and that they may affect your surgery experience.

If you have a complication from surgery, it will affect your experience in different ways. You may have more pain or need more surgery, your hospital stay may be longer than usual, or you may need to take more medication for a longer period of time.

For more information, see Immediate Risks of Surgery.

Last updated: June 1st 2008