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Surgery Information

Perioperative Services at MUSC Health is a collaborative and visionary unit comprised of 41 operating rooms located on our campus in Charleston, South Carolina, where over 48,000 surgeries were performed last year. Within our department, we have over 500 staff members including nursing, anesthesia, technical, and administrative staff. Our highly skilled and renowned surgeon faculty represents 16 specialty groups ranging from general surgery to organ transplant. We offer both inpatient and outpatient services to children and adults within our three facilities on campus: MUSC Main Hospital, Ashley River Tower, and Rutledge Tower.

Perioperative is a term that refers to all three phases of surgical care:

  • before surgery (preoperative),
  • during surgery,
  • and after surgery (postoperative).

Our goal is to provide our patients with excellent, high quality care in a pleasant environment at each step of their experience with us. Please refer to our resources below for more information as our patient or visitor.

Before Your Surgery

Things to help you prepare, including:

  • Adult fasting guidelines
  • Pediatric fasting guidelines
  • Bathing instructions
  • Other things to remember the day of your surgery

Where to Go On the Day of Your Surgery

We have three surgery locations at our downtown Charleston campus. Find out about parking and how to get to the surgery registration areas in each building.

  • MUSC Main Hospital
  • Rutledge Tower
  • Ashley River Tower (ART)

What to Expect in the Preoperative (Holding) Area

There are a few things you can expect while you are in the Holding Area before you are taken back to the operating room.

After Your Surgery

What you can expect when your surgery is finished. Remember, if you are going home after your surgery, you must have a responsible adult with you who can drive you home.

Frequently Asked Questions

This section has answers to some of the questions you may have about your surgery.

 

 

Before Your Surgery

 

Adult Fasting Guidelines

NOTE: The guidelines listed below can be applied to most surgeries, but please follow any specific guidelines that your surgical care team may have provided to you. If you are unsure or have any questions, please call the Preoperative Clinic at 843-876-0116.

  • NO SOLID FOOD after midnight prior to your surgery for everyone!
  • Patient may have up to 8 ounces (or 1 measured cup) of clear liquids up to 2 hours prior to arrival time. Examples of clear liquids include:
    • Water, 7-Up, Sprite, or ginger ale.
    • Clear tea.
    • Apple or grape juice.
    • Plain, black coffee (no cream or sugar).
  • No milk or milk products. If you need clarification regarding types of clear liquid that are permissible, please call the Preoperative Clinic at 843-876-0116.
  • NO GUM or CANDY after midnight (also including no cough drops).
  • NO ORAL DIABETIC MEDICATIONS on the morning of surgery. If you take insulin, ask your doctor if you need to adjust your insulin before surgery.
  • You may take your other medications on the morning of surgery with small sips of water UNLESS your doctor, the anesthesiologist, or the nurse practitioner in preoperative testing instructs you not to take these medications.
  • CONTINUOUS TUBE FEEDINGS should be stopped at least 6 hours before arrival. Transpyloric (below the stomach) tube feedings should be stopped 2 hours before arrival for your surgery.

For your safety, failure to follow these guidelines or other guidelines given to you by your surgeon may result in cancellation or delay of your surgery.

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Pediatric Fasting Guidelines

  • NO SOLID FOOD after midnight prior to surgery.
  • NO GUM or CANDY after midnight (also includes no cough drops).
  • Patient may have up to 8 ounces (or 1 measured cup) of clear liquids up to 2 hours prior to arrival time. Examples of clear liquids include:
    • Water, 7-Up, Sprite, or ginger ale.
    • Clear tea.
    • Apple or grape juice.
  • Patient may have breast milk up to 4 hours prior to arrival time.
  • Patient may have up to 6 ounces of infant formula up to 6 hours prior to arrival time.
  • Patient may have up to 6 ounces of non-human milk up to 8 hours prior to arrival time.

Failure to follow these guidelines or other guidelines given to you by your surgeon may result in cancellation or delay of your surgery for your safety.

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Bathing Instructions

Bathing with an antiseptic scrub before your surgery will reduce the number of germs on your skin to help prevent infections. You should have received a bottle of chlorhexidine scrub from your doctor’s clinic or the Preoperative Clinic to use for this purpose.

Use half of the bottle of chlorhexidine scrub you were given the night before your surgery, and the other half of the bottle to shower the morning of your surgery.

  • The Day Before Surgery
    • Shower and wash your hair with your regular soap and shampoo first, THEN wash with the chlorhexidine scrub from your neck down, focusing on the areas where you will be having a surgical incision. Remember to avoid your face and genital areas!
  • The Morning of Surgery
    • Do not wash with your regular soap first. Only wash with the chlorhexidine scrub from your neck down, focusing on the areas where you will be having a surgical incision. Remember to avoid your face and genital areas!
    • Brush your teeth the morning of surgery, but do not swallow any water.

Important Points to Remember Related to Bathing:

  • Please do not shave any area of your body (i.e., face, underarms, legs, area of the incision) in the 24 hours prior to your surgery. This is to decrease the risk of infection.
  • Do not use the antiseptic scrub if you are allergic to CHG (chlorhexidine gluconate).
  • Do not use the antiseptic scrub on your face or genitals (it may tingle or burn; rinse immediately with plenty of water if the scrub touches these areas).
  • If rash, redness, itching, or other allergy symptoms occur, stop using the scrub and notify your doctor.
  • Keep this product away from children. Seek medical attention or contact poison control (Palmetto Poison Control: 800-222-1222) if swallowed.
  • Do not give this product to anyone else; it is for your use only.

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Other Things to Remember for the Day of Your Surgery

DO
  • Bring a photo ID and your health insurance card.
  • Bring an adult to accompany you who is able to drive you home and take care of you.
  • Bring proof of guardianship or power of attorney if you are a caretaker (non-parent) for a child under 18 or for an adult who cannot legally represent themselves.
  • Follow the Adult or Pediatric Fasting Guidelines (on this web page or given to you by your doctor).
  • Use the chlorhexadine scrub as instructed in your bathing instructions.
  • Bring a small amount of cash for the parking deck ($3 to $6) or valet ($5), any prescriptions that may be ordered, and any meals.
  • Remove all piercings and jewelry.

 

DO NOT
  • Smoke, chew tobacco, or drink alcohol the day of your surgery.
  • Wear any makeup, nail polish, deodorant, perfume, or scented lotion.
  • Eat food, chew gum, or have any type of candy (including no cough drops) after midnight prior to your procedure.
  • Bring valuables such as jewelry, purse, wallet, credit cards, or a large amount of cash.

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Where to Go On the Day of Surgery

We have three surgery locations at our downtown Charleston campus, which are listed below. You can find parking information for all three locations here.

Bring your parking garage ticket with you to be stamped in any surgery registration location for a reduced fee of $3/day for outpatient surgery or $6/day for inpatient surgery. Ashley River Tower and Rutledge Tower also offer valet parking services at their main entrances for $5.

Note: South Carolina state law provides there is no charge for parking in metered or timed facilities for vehicles that display a handicap plate or placard and that are driven by or are transporting the handicapped individual. If the handicapped individual is not in the vehicle, the posted parking rate applies when exiting the garage.

 

MUSC Main Hospital

Located at 171 Ashley Avenue. Patient drop-off and handicapped parking are located off of Ashley Avenue at the building entrance.

From main hospital entrance off of Ashley Avenue, follow these directions to the surgery waiting room:

  1. Check in at the Registration Desk on the first floor (to the left of the Security Desk).
  2. Go the the "E" elevators by the Security Desk.
  3. Take the "E" elevator to the fourth floor.
  4. From the elevators, enter the surgery waiting room to your left.
  5. Check in at the desk in the surgery waiting room.
 

Rutledge Tower

Located at 135 Rutledge Avenue. Patient drop-off, handicapped and valet parking are located off Rutledge Avenue at the building entrance. 

From the Ashley-Rutledge parking garage, follow these directions to the surgery registration area:

  1. Enter the hospital from the second floor deck.
  2. Take the first left hallway before the Information Desk.
  3. Follow the signs toward Rutldege Tower.
  4. Take the first hallway on your left towards the "A" elevators.
  5. Continue following the signs toward Rutledge Tower.
  6. Take the "A" elevator to the first floor.
  7. Take a left off of the elevator toward Registration.
  8. Take the next left toward Room 111 (Registration).
  9. Room 111 (Registration) is on your right.

From the patient drop-off/valet on Rutledge Avenue, follow these directions to the surgery registration area:

  1. Enter the front of Rutledge Tower.
  2. Go straight down the hallway past the Information Desk.
  3. Go to the end of the hallway (before you reach the double doors).
  4. Take a left toward Room 111 (Registration).
  5. Room 111 (Registration) is on your right.
 

Ashley River Tower (ART)

Located at 25 Courtenay Drive. Patient drop-off and valet parking are located off of Courtenay Drive at the building entrance. Handicapped parking is accessible in the Courtenay Drive Parking Garage.

Once you enter the Ashley River Tower lobby from either valet, drop-off, or the parking garage, follow these directions to the surgery waiting room:

  1. Check in at the Registration Desk in the first floor lobby.
  2. Take the "D" elevator up the the fourth floor.
  3. Take a right off of the elevator and go straight down the hall to the surgery waiting room.
  4. Check in at the waiting room desk.

For some breast cancer patients:

Breast cancer patients who need to have a procedure at Hollings Cancer Center prior to coming to Ashley River Tower (ART) will need to park or valet at Hollings Cancer Center (86 Jonathan Lucas Street) and drive over to ART once the first procedure is complete. You will not be charged for a second valet at ART. There will also be designated personnel in the drop off area at ART to bring you upstairs.

 

What to Expect in the Preoperative (Holding) Area

The following will happen when you are taken from the waiting room to the preoperative area:

  • You will change into a hospital gown. You will need to remove ALL of your clothes (including underwear), jewelry, body piercings, metal hair clips, glasses, contact lenses, dentures, and hearing aids. Please bring any necessary cases for these items with you. Your designated support person will be given these items to keep while you are in surgery.
  • You will have your vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and oxygen saturation) taken and blood sugar checked (if you are a diabetic).
  • You may be asked to give a urine specimen and blood sample. If you are female and are pre-menopausal, a urine specimen will be required.
  • You will be asked questions by multiple health care team members to update your record. If you have had any changes to your health recently, please inform your nurse.
  • You may have an IV needle inserted in your hand or arm. Numbing medicine may be used prior to inserting the IV.  
  • You will talk to the anesthesia staff and operating room care team who will be taking care of you during your surgery.
  • You may have special stockings or compression sleeves placed on your legs. They help to prevent blood clots during and after your surgery.
  • You may be asked to practice using an Incentive Spirometer. Some patients are more likely to have problems fully expanding their lungs and/or clearing secretions from their lungs after a procedure. If your doctor feels this may be a problem for you, he or she will order an Incentive Spirometer.

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After Your Surgery

  • The surgeon will update your designated support person in the waiting room. You may still be in the operating room at this time with the anesthesia staff.
  • You will be transferred from the operating room to the PACU (Post-Anesthesia Care Unit). This area is where you will recover from your procedure before you are sent to a room or discharged from the hospital. This area is sometimes called the recovery room.
  • The PACU nurse will contact your designated support person in the waiting room to provide them with an update after arrival in PACU.
  • If staying overnight in the hospital, you will not be assigned a room until you are in PACU (the recovery room). The PACU nurse will notify your designated support person of the room number as soon as your room is assigned.
  • If there will be a delay in transferring you out of the PACU, your designated support person may be allowed to see you for a short visit based on how you are feeling.

Important Note: If you are going to be discharged home after surgery, please make sure the person who will be responsible for taking you home stays in the waiting area. The PACU nurses will need to talk to this person and give them important information for your postoperative care at home.

Your surgery will be cancelled if you do not have a responsible adult with you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Please take a moment to read through some of our frequently asked questions to help inform you of what to expect during your stay with us. If you have any questions that have not been addressed, please feel free to ask your surgical care team or contact our Preoperative Clinic at 843-876-0116.

How long will my surgery take?

The length of surgery varies greatly depending on the patient and the procedure itself. Your preoperative (pre-op) nurse can give you the estimated length of your procedure, but prior to you going back to the operating room, your surgical team will be coming by to discuss your surgery with you. They will be able to give you more details regarding how long your surgery will last.

Will I see my surgical care team before going into the operating room?

Yes. Your surgical care team will come to see you in the preoperative area to review your consent, procedure, and make sure your questions are answered prior to proceeding to the operating room.

Who will be back in the operating room with me?

Other than your surgeon(s), the anesthesia team and the operating room nurses will be back in the operating room with you. Before going to surgery, the anesthesia team and operating room nurses will come to the preoperative area to introduce themselves.

Will I be in pain after my procedure?

You can expect some discomfort after surgery, but the amount of pain can depend on the procedure being performed. The anesthesia team will work closely with you while in the recovery room to help manage your pain. If you have concerns about your post-op pain control, please ask your anesthesia team when they come to speak with you. Please let your preoperative and recovery room nurses know if you are in pain so they can help make you more comfortable during your time with us.

Will my family be able to come back to the preoperative area to see me before I go to the operating room?

Yes, your family will be able to see you prior to going to the operating room. The nurse or tech will come and get family or friends from the waiting room after you are prepped and ready for surgery. If you have multiple family members with you, we ask that only two come back to visit at a time. This is to help maintain the privacy of you and other patients.

Will my family be informed of how I’m doing during my surgery?

Yes, the operating room will be calling out to the surgical waiting room periodically to update family or the designated supported person.

Will my family be able to talk to the surgeon when my procedure is finished?

Yes, the surgical team will be out to speak with family or friends following your procedure. However, you may still be in the operating room waking up from anesthesia at this time. Depending on the surgeon’s preference, your family may be asked to meet with the surgeon in a conference room for privacy purposes.

How long after my procedure before my family will be able to come back to the recovery room?

We will bring your family to see you in the recovery area as soon as possible. Everyone responds to anesthesia differently, and we want to make sure your immediate postoperative needs are addressed prior to bringing family and friends back. When you arrive and check in for surgery, your family will be given a code and tracking number. This allows your family to track your progress during your surgical experience while also protecting your privacy.

Will I have to spend the night in the hospital? And if so, for how long?

Your surgical team is in charge of making this decision, and it may not be determined until after your procedure. Make sure to ask the surgical team when they come by to speak with you so you can make the necessary arrangements.

What room will I be staying in if I’m admitted? And can my family spend the night at the hospital with me?

Room assignments are made after your procedure is complete. You will be given this information in the recovery room.

During times when the hospital is at maximum capacity, there is a chance you may spend the night in the recovery room. If this is the case, you will be moved over to a more comfortable bed, but your family may not be able to spend the night with you. Please ask your nurse if this is a possibility so you are able to make other sleeping arrangements, if needed.

Can my belongings stay in my pre-op bay while I’m in surgery?

We are not able to keep your belongings in the preoperative area once you go to surgery because you will not be returning to this area. After leaving the preoperative area, you will be going to the sterile operating room and then the recovery room before being admitted into your inpatient room or discharged home. To help ensure your belongings are taken care of and accounted for, your designated support person will be responsible for your personal items.

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