Prepare for Your Surgical Visit

Now that you and your doctor have talked about your condition and decided on surgery, you probably have questions. You might wonder if you can take your regular medications before surgery, how long you'll be away from work or where your family can park when they come to the hospital. The OHSU Brain Institute staff and your healthcare team are here to answer your questions and make you as comfortable as possible.

Only your doctor can answer questions about your surgery, its benefits and any risks. Your healthcare team can answer questions about your hospital stay and what to do at home after surgery.

Before Your Surgery


Before you have surgery, we need to make sure your insurance company will cover (pay for) the procedure. This is called authorization.

Because every insurance company is different, it might take up to two (2) weeks for our surgery schedulers to authorize the surgery and set the date of your surgery. Once this is done, a scheduler will call you and send you a letter with your surgery date.

Preoperative appointments

Once your surgery is authorized, we make an appointment for you with a nurse practitioner in the OHSU Pre-Admission Testing Clinic. At this appointment, you have the tests you need to make sure you are healthy enough to have surgery. The nurse practitioner also takes your medical history and examines you.

Your medications

If you take any medications, vitamins, herbal supplements or other products, please bring all the bottles to your pre-admission testing appointment. If you don't bring the bottles, please bring a complete list of everything you take, including the dose (amount) and time you take each medication.

Be sure to bring (or put on your list) any over-the-counter medications (medications you get without a prescription).

Herbal medications

Before your surgery, please stop taking any herbal supplements (herbal medications). Stop taking them at least one week before surgery. Stopping two weeks before surgery is better than stopping one week ahead, so if you can stop taking them two weeks before surgery, please do so.

Some herbal supplements (herbal medications) can cause problems with surgery or anesthesia. These problems can be serious. If you have questions, talk to your OHSU Brain Institute healthcare team, but do not take any herbal supplements (medications) for one to two weeks before your surgery.


Two weeks before your surgery, stop taking aspirin and any medications that have aspirin in them. Aspirin can cause bleeding problems during surgery. This can cause serious complications (problems with surgery that can be life-threatening).

If you have questions, ask your primary care doctor or other person who told you to take aspirin.

Because some over-the-counter medications (medications you get without a prescription) have aspirin in them, read the labels on any medications you take. If you are not sure if a medication has aspirin in it, call your primary care doctor or a member of your OHSU Brain Institute healthcare team. Tell them the name of the medication and ask if it contains aspirin.

Blood thinners (blood thinning medications)

If you take Coumadin, it is very important to talk to the doctor who prescribed it for you. Tell your doctor about your surgery. Coumadin delays (slows down) your blood's ability to form clots. This can be dangerous during surgery. You might bleed too much, and this can cause serious complications (problems with your treatment that can be life-threatening).

You need to stop taking Coumadin before surgery, but because it is an important medication, you need to know when to stop taking it or if you need another medication instead. For example, you might be able to stop taking Coumadin the week before your surgery. Or you might need to take a different medication before your surgery (instead of Coumadin).

Your X-rays, CT scans and MRI scans

If you have any X-rays, CT scans (CAT scans), MRI scans or results of other imaging studies, bring them to your appointment in the OHSU Pre-Admission Testing Clinic or to the hospital on the day of your surgery.

Pain management

At the OHSU Brain Institute, we work closely with OHSU's pain management team to reduce pain after surgery. Doctors on OHSU's pain management team are experts in the latest pain medications and treatments.

The OHSU pain management team only helps with pain after surgery. If you need pain treatment before surgery, please talk with your primary care doctor.

Time off work

How long you will be away from work depends on:

  • The type of surgery you have
  • How your surgery goes
  • The type of work you do
  • Your general health

At the OHSU Brain Institute, we usually ask people to take two to six weeks away from work.

You usually see your OHSU Brain Institute doctor two to four weeks after you leave the hospital. By that time, you and your doctor can usually decide when you can go back to work.

Family Leave Act and disability forms

We know you need Family Leave Act (FLA) and disability forms filled out, but we can't complete them until after you have surgery. Most employers understand you need to miss work if you have surgery, and will not expect you to complete these forms before you come to the hospital.

Getting help at home

If you have young children or care for a sick or older family member, you need someone else to care for them until you recover from surgery. This includes:

  • When you are in the hospital
  • When you are home after surgery, until your doctor says you can do certain activities

Brain or central nervous system surgery is major surgery. Do not expect to go back to your normal activities as soon as you get home. You need to rest and take care of yourself. Your OHSU Brain Institute doctor will tell you when you can return to regular activities.

Where to stay after surgery

If you have a home, you should stay there after you go home from the hospital. If you don't have your own home (house, apartment or other place to live), please find a place to stay for at least two weeks after you leave the hospital. A place you can stay for six to eight weeks is best.

If you have any type of brain surgery, you need someone to care for you at home afterwards. This can be a friend, family member or paid caregiver.

OHSU Hospital cannot be responsible for housing or transportation arrangements.

Personal hygiene

You can usually take a shower and wash your hair three to five days after surgery. This depends on your health, the type of surgery you have and other factors.

Someone on your healthcare team will talk with you about when you can shower, wash your hair and take care of other personal needs. They will talk with you before surgery or when you go home from the hospital.

Visitors in the hospital

Your family and friends can visit you in the hospital. They usually cannot stay overnight in your room.

Having a friend or family member stay in your room overnight can disturb your roommate and your healthcare team. You and your friend or family member might not sleep well. There are many hotels and motels near OHSU where family members and friends can stay.

Find a hotel or motel near OHSU

Medical equipment after surgery

You probably won't need a hospital bed, walker or wheelchair when you go home. If you do, your healthcare team can arrange it. We can also help you arrange visits from a home health nurse or physical therapist or any other care you need at home. The type of care may depend on your insurance coverage (what your insurance company pays for).

Going home from the hospital

Discharge time from OHSU Hospital is 11 a.m.

You can ride in a car or on a plane when you go home from the hospital. You need someone to pick you up and take you home, or travel with you on the plane.

Plan to get out of the car (or stand up) once every hour. It might take longer to get home if you stop to get out of the car every hour, but standing and walking around helps prevent blood clots. This is very important after surgery.

If you are on a plane, you can tell the flight attendant you recently had surgery and need to stand up every hour. The attendant can help you find good times to stand up and walk around.

You will not be able to drive yourself home from the hospital. You should not drive when you are taking any narcotic pain medications.

Parking at OHSU

At OHSU, parking is free for patients and visitors. Learn more