Preparing For Arnold-Chiari Decompression Surgery

Not everyone diagnosed with Arnold-Chiari malformation requires a decompression surgery. Just those patients who experience pressure on their brains or the spinal cords due to blocked flow of cerebrospinal fluid are recommended the surgery, medically known as decompressive suboccipital craniectomy and cervical laminectomy. The surgery helps to alleviate or reduce pressure and usually after a successful surgery, patients notice a marked reduction or complete improvement in their symptoms.

Prior to the Surgery

Medical technology has advanced substantially to make neurosurgery relatively safe. However, there are still risks associated with decompression surgery. Hence, it is important that you are completely honest with your surgeon and anaesthetist about the medications you are taking and what are the health issues you are facing currently.

Before you go ahead with the surgery, you must inform the neurosurgeon about the following:

If you have one of the following medical conditions, keep the anaesthetist posted.

In addition, you should also be prepared for many other tests prior to the decompression surgery. These will include blood tests to check for blood clotting problems and anaemia, chest X-ray and ECG to check whether you heart is functioning properly.

What You Need to Do Before the Surgery

If you smoke, you should be looking to stop smoking at least 3 to 4 weeks before your surgery, as it can have an adverse effect on the healing and outcome of your surgery.

If you are taking blood thinners, such as warfarin or aspirin, you must be looking to stop them at least 2 weeks before the surgery. However, stopping this medication should be done under medical supervision. Usually, when patients are on warfarin, doctors may recommend admitting the patients a few days before the surgery.

On the Day of the Surgery

On the morning of your surgery, you may want to wash your hair with a mild shampoo. Remember, you will not be able to wash your hair after the surgery until the surgeon gives you a go ahead. Also, be sure not to eat anything at least 6 to 8 hours before your surgery.

Arrive at the hospital a couple of hours prior to the time slated for your surgery. Bring an overnight case and a friend or family member. Also, carry your health insurance details. You do not know how long you will be in the hospital, as this duration varies across patients. You may, therefore, want to bring along your favourite pillow, so that you are comfortable in the hospital bed during your stay.

Having a decompression surgery for Arnold-Chiari malformation can be stressful. However, when looked at the positive side of things, most of your symptoms, if not all, will disappear after the surgery. So, breathe and remain relaxed.