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Pre-op Maneuver

L5S1SpondyLL5S1Spondy Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello All,

I'me due for an L5-S1 PLIF mid January 2011...sciatica in left leg was killing me. I've been on so many forums and read so many articles that I've pretty well been able to wrap my head around the whole spinal fusion thing. Not really scared at all, just a bit apprehensive. Have an excellent NS and team---that's all he does and even my epidural anesthesiologist told me the guys is "very,very good at what he does."

So why am I writing you may ask. Because I'd like an answer to a question that is hardly cocktail party conversation. The question is about post op constipation due to narcotic pain meds. It's been dealt with on the other forums, but no one has mentioned something I read about.

One person wrote that they took a stool softener (senakot-s) BEFORE the operation, obviously before the no food/liquid timeframe cutoff prior to surgery. That is usually 8-12 hours prior. So softeners take about 24 hours to work (or more sometimes, depending on the severity of the constipation I think)

But the person did it as a pre-"emptive" strike (HAHA pun intended) but they said it worked, kind of getting a jump on things before it had a chance to get bad. By the time they were less than 24 hours post op, it was already starting to work. Then they just took softeners on a schedule.

Anyone heard of doing this?



  • I haven't heard of doing this, but being a nurse, I bet it does work well. Wish I had thought of this lol.

    Best of luck on your upcoming surgery.

  • I haven't heard of it either but I don't think I would have wanted to have a BM that soon after my spinal fusion surgery. I took the same stool softener plus Merilax (sp). It took several days after I was home but it finally worked and that was the only problem I had. Your whole system usually shuts down for a few days after surgery too. Pain meds always make me constipated.

  • Hi Lauren

    Your reply interests me because everything I've read and been told says that a person is never released to go home after any surgery for which they were totally knocked out until they've had a BM. So how is it that you were cleared to leave before that?
  • I don't think that is the norm anymore. I had a hysterectomy last year and didn't have one until I got home. I have to say that for my fusion surgery a few weeks ago I was a bit surprised that they didn't ask me more about having a BM since it was such invasive surgery. They did give me stool softeners starting the day after my surgery. Even though I was up and walking the day after my surgery my insides were a bit slow getting moving again. The second day after surgery I took my morning meds and everything came right back up. I had to go on liquids until the ol' bowels started making noise again.


    PS: I didn't even have to have one before I left the hospital 18 years ago when I had a c section. I did for my older children with a normal birth though, go figure.
  • I think now it is bowel sounds they go by instead of actual bowel movements. They listen to make sure your bowels are functioning properly before you leave. I didn't have a bm for several days after my surgery. They gave me softners and miralax. I was passing gas and had good sounds so home I went.
  • On my last 3 major surgeries, they made sure my urine output was normal, but only noise for the other area coming back to life!

    Aside from laxatives, I was given a list after they sliced me hip to hip to get a large ovarian tumor out to keep my stools soft. The list also had the ruff-age and bean products to avoid. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I had an AxiaLIF surgery. That means going up through your tail bone. There is a chance that the surgeon can nick organs involved here so they want you completely empty. So yeah pre-emptive strike for surgical reasons.

    I used some Senacot but that wasn't enough to completely empty me. That was good for softening the stool and getting the ball rolling, sort of speak... I drank Magnesium Citrate. You can say that stuff is good for a complete system flush, and in short order... 2 days prior to the surgery I went on very soft food and soup. No heavy stuff.

    They said very little about my urinary bladder. Since I was on bladder pills at the time I was empty there too before surgery.

    I had no complications and the surgeon was happy that I was "On Empty" when I went in.

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