Cathy Dorazio-Schantz BSN, RNC, Cynthia L. Griffo RN, MS
The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: September 8, 2002
Copyright © 2002 by the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission in writing from the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania
Most women facing gynecological cancer surgery have some fear and anxiety. This sheet will answer common questions and tell you what to expect. This is general information on what will happen before, during and after your surgery. Everyone is different. The care you get from your doctor and nurses will change to meet your needs. Please ask your health care team questions whenever you need to.
Before your surgery you will need a physical exam. This will be done in the hospital or doctor's office. A nurse or other medical person will ask you questions about your health. You will also be asked about allergies. Don't think any information or question is too small or embarrassing. It is best to let your medical team know about any concerns you have and to ask questions.
You will have tests done to check your blood. Your doctor may also order a chest x-ray and electrocardiogram (EKG). During this visit, you will be given instructions about what you'll need to do before your surgery.
It's a good idea to ask your surgeon about any medicines you are taking. Some medicines cause bleeding during surgery. Most of these medicines are listed below. If you are taking any of these, talk to your surgeon to see if you should stop taking them before your surgery:
Also, if you have any questions about your insurance coverage, feel free to speak with a hospital representative or your surgeon's staff during this visit.
Before your surgery, you will be asked to sign a consent form. This form makes sure that you understand the surgery and its risks.
Your surgeon will explain the surgery and its risks. Read your consent form carefully. It will have the following information:
When you sign this form, it means you fully understand the type of surgery you will be having, as well as its risks and benefits.
It is a good idea to have a friend or family member with you on the day of surgery. This person can support you. You may not need physical help right after your surgery, but having someone you feel close to can make it easier. During your hospital stay, if you want a friend or relative to stay after visiting hours, talk with your nurse.
You will need to have someone with you when you leave the hospital. Be sure to get a friend or relative to be with you at the time of discharge.
You should pack such items as:
Since there is not much room to keep your belongings in the Ambulatory Surgery Unit (APU), they should be left with your support person or brought to the hospital after your surgery.
You should not wear any jewelry, makeup or contact lenses. Do not bring credit cards, cash, or checkbook. Eyeglasses may be needed to read and sign forms. Dental bridges or dentures can be worn and removed just before your surgery.
One day before your surgery you may get a telephone call from the Surgery Unit. During this call, you will be given information regarding where and what time to arrive on the day of surgery.
You must follow the list below or your surgery may be cancelled:
Tell your nurse if you have had any changes in your health - such as a cold, fever, or diarrhea - since your exam before surgery.
Changing Into a Gown: At this point, you will be taken to a dressing room to change into a hospital gown.
Anesthesia: Once you have changed into a gown, you may be offered medicine to relax you. An intravenous (IV) needle will be placed in your arm. This is for anesthesia, other medicines and fluids. Then you will be taken to the Operating Room.
In the operating room you will be helped on to a table. If you've never been in an operating room before, all the equipment and activity can be disturbing.
You'll see a lot of people you've never met before. There may be a lot of noise as members of the surgical team talk to each other and set up equipment. Your surgeon may come in to say hello. If you feel cold, ask for a blanket.
Much of the equipment you see is there to take care of you:
If anyone is doing something that you don't understand, please ask. Once you are asleep, your surgery will begin.