Leaving the hospital after scoliosis surgery

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Find out what needs to happen in order for you to be discharged from the hospital after having scoliosis surgery, including your physical abilities.

Key points

  • Most teens who have scoliosis surgery stay in hospital for five to seven days.
  • In order for you to go home, you must have normal bladder function and have had a bowel movement, be able to drink fluids and eat food, walk a certain distance and use the stairs, and be able to control pain. You may need to have a spinal X-ray done.
  • The doctor will give you a prescription for pain medication.
  • Your surgeon will discuss physical activity restrictions, such as lifting, forward bending, and twisting of the spine.
  • You will need help with activities such as showering and getting dressed until you can work your way up to doing them.
  • Ensure you do not take ibuprofen or aspirin-based drugs without the surgeon's permission. Smoking and second-hand smoke interferes with bone healing and should be avoided.
  • Some patients will need to wear a brace after their surgery.

Most teens who have scoliosis surgery stay in the hospital for five to seven days. There are a few things that need to happen before you can go home:

  • You must have normal bladder and bowel function. You must have a bowel movement before you go home.
  • You must be able to drink fluids and eat small amounts of food.
  • You must be able to walk a certain distance and use the stairs.
  • Your pain must be adequately controlled.
  • You may need to have a spinal X-ray taken.
  • Your incision needs to be looked at by a doctor or nurse.

The doctor will give you a prescription for pain medication. It is a good idea to take some before you get in the car to go home. Your next appointment to see your surgeon will be in two to six weeks when they will take another X-ray of your spine.

You won’t need any nursing care or physiotherapy when you go home from the hospital. You won’t need any special equipment at home either. Specific physical activity restrictions will be discussed by your surgeon or advance practice nurse. In general, there should be no lifting, bending forward, or twisting of your spine. No other physical activity except for walking. Your parents will need to help you with your everyday activities when you get home, such as showering and getting dressed. You will slowly work towards doing your everyday activities on your own.

Do not take any ibuprofen or acetylsalicylic acid​ (Aspirin)-based drugs without your surgeon’s permission. These drugs interfere with bone healing. If you are not sure, check with your pharmacist. Smoking also interferes with bone healing and should be avoided. This also includes second-hand smoke.

Some patients will need to wear a brace after their surgery. This depends on the surgeon’s preference and the type of surgery.

Last updated: June 1st 2008