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Back to School - Spine Pre-operative Education Class

Designed for patients scheduled to have spine surgery, the Spine Pre-operative Education Class provides important preoperative testing and offers information on preparing for, and recovering from, spine surgery. At the beginning of the education course, a pre-operative nasal swab will be performed to test for bacteria called Staphylococcus Aureus.  This helps us better prepare for your needs and care. To further reduce the risk of infection, patients are supplied with special cloths and instructions that you will bathe with before surgery.

The spine pre-operative class is offered on Thursdays and pre-registration is required so everything is prepared for you. Classes are held on the campus of Rush Copley Medical Center. Enter through the main entrance (free valet parking available) and you will be directed to the class. Please plan to arrive at the classroom at 11 a.m. The class lasts for 1 to 1½ hours. If you were unable to sign up at your last surgeon’s appointment, please register online for this free class by calling 866-4COPLEY (1-866-426-7539).

To best meet your educational and testing needs, select a class time that is within 10 to 14 days before your surgery.

Pre-operative Information: Preventing Infection

Most patients do well after spine surgery. However, a small number of patients (about 1 to 2.5 in 100) may develop an infection after the operation. An infection in your spine may cause you to need antibiotics, more surgery, and increase the time it takes for you to recover. All humans carry bacteria on their skin, in their hair, and in their nose, mouth, and stomachs. The normal bacteria that we carry can cause infection after surgery. One bacteria is called Staphylococcus Aureus. To decrease your risk of infection after spine surgery, it is important to find out if you carry this bacteria in your nose.

Testing for Staphylococcus Aureus

About one in four to five people carry Staphylococcus Aureus in their nose where it usually does not cause a problem. Prior to your surgery, your doctor will order a test to check for two types of Staphylococcus Aureus: methicillin resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) and methicillin sensitive Staphylococcus Aureus (MSSA). This test will be done at the time of your pre-operative joint replacement class at Rush Copley. A cotton swab will be gently rubbed on the inside of your nose. It may tickle, but will not hurt. You do not need to fast for this test. You will find out the results before you leave the class.

If you are positive for MRSA or MSSA in your nose, you will be given a prescription for a medication called Bactroban or Mupirocin to use for five days right before your surgery. This medicine will kill the Staphylococcus Aureus. It will come in one large tube or five small packets. You will put this medication on the inside of your nose as directed.

A positive test does not mean you have an infection, only that you tested positive for carrying this bacteria. Your surgery will not be cancelled if you use the medication and body wash as directed.

Pre-operative Bathing

Another way to decrease infection is to bathe with a special soap prior to surgery. ALL spine surgery patients will receive instructions and packets of a special anti-bacterial soap when you attend your pre-operative class at Rush Copley. This soap needs to be used whether you tested positive or negative for Staphylococcus Aureus. You will be told to shower with this soap for the three days right before your surgery.