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Surgery at the ASC: What You Can Expect

By: Kyle Dorshorst, ASC Clinical Manager

You’re slated for surgery at the Ambulatory Surgical Center – congratulations! You’ll find the ASC to be a first-class facility, and you’ll be well taken care of each step of the way.

If you’ve had surgeries at other facilities, surgery at the ASC may seem a little different – not in any big ways, but in the details. Here’s what you can expect and what you should prepare for.

Day Before Surgery

You will be contacted the day prior to your scheduled procedure either by text message or phone call with instructions to prepare for surgery. The instructions will include your time of arrival, when to stop eating food, when you can have clear liquids, and any medication instructions.


Your arrival time will be around one hour prior to your scheduled surgery time. Check in with the ASC receptionist and make yourself comfortable. Feel free to use your phone or other electronic device.


When you’re called back, a nurse will bring you to your pre-op room to get you ready for surgery.

Prepping you for surgery can include things like:

  • Having you change into a surgical gown, slippers, and blue hairnet.
  • Going through a pre-op intake form that includes questions about your health history and medications. We’ll have information that we gathered from you when you completed your online registration; we’ll confirm that everything is up-to-date and accurate.
  • Placing an IV and starting fluids.
  • Meeting with the anesthesia team to discuss your health history and your anesthesia plan. Your health history and the surgery you’re having will dictate the anesthesia you’ll receive.
  • Going through some simple post-operative recommendations, if time allows.

Your surgeon will see you before the surgery and verify the surgical procedure, just as a safety check. For instance, if you’re having knee surgery they’ll confirm that fact, and make sure everyone agrees on which knee gets the surgery. They’ll also answer any questions you might have.

Operating Room

Your operating-room nurse will go through a verification process with you – simple things, like asking you your name and birth date – and then take you to the operating room. Anesthesia will give you some medication to help you relax.

In the operating room, staff will set up equipment to monitor your blood pressure, heart rhythm, and oxygen levels.

At this point, the anesthesia team will implement the plan that you discussed, and surgery will start.

Surgeries can take anywhere from a half-hour to several hours, depending on the procedure. With some procedures you may be awake and aware of time, but not feeling any pain. With other procedures, you’ll only wake up in the recovery room after the procedure.


In recovery you’ll wake up slowly – so slowly than oftentimes you don’t remember the early parts of the recovery process.

When you’re awake enough, you’ll be able to drink and have some crackers, and you may be joined by your family or other authorized visitors.

There may be some pain emerging after surgery, but your pain will be monitored and controlled at a level that’s acceptable to you.

Depending on the procedure, you’ll go for a short walk to make sure you’re ready to go home. If you’re given the go-ahead, you can change into your clothes and get ready for discharge.

Assuming you meet the criteria for recovery, mobility, and pain management, you can be discharged. However, anesthesia will visit with you before you leave the ASC just to make sure there are no lingering after-effects from the medication.

Whether you need it or not, you’ll be taken out to your vehicle by wheelchair … but you won’t be allowed to drive. You need someone to drive you home.

There’s almost always a follow-up appointment scheduled several weeks after surgery where you meet with your surgeon and discuss your recovery. Sometimes follow-up contact is made within 48 hours after surgery, just to make sure you’re doing okay.

Many patients find surgery at the ASC to be as pleasant as surgery can be, with the added bonuses of increased mobility and/or decreased pain once the healing process is complete.

If you’re considering surgery, consider the ASC. And if you have questions, call for more information: 715-345-0500.

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