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Surgical Care

What is Enhanced Recovery After Surgery?

Keep your pain under control.

Enhanced Recovery After Surgery Programs

Enhanced Recovery After Surgery is a care plan that helps you get back to your full health as quickly as possible. Evidence shows that patients who participate in Enhanced Recovery After Surgery programs return to their baseline function sooner than with traditional approaches.

In most cases, this innovative treatment plan will:

  • Improve the outcome of your surgery.
  • Reduce the chance of complications after your surgery.
  • Keep your pain under control.
  • Keep your hospital stay as short as possible.

Before Surgery

The success of Enhanced Recovery After Surgery actually begins BEFORE surgery. Your surgeon and medical team will work with you in the weeks leading up to surgery to help you be as healthy as possible:

  • Quit smoking!
  • Exercise.
  • Eat nutritious foods.

Important Things to Do in the Weeks Leading Up to Surgery

Quit Smoking

You need to quit smoking at least two weeks before surgery. If you cannot quit before then, try to cut down on your smoking. It will help you reduce your risk for:

  • Pneumonia.
  • Blood clots.
  • Heart attack.
  • Poor wound healing.
  • Wound infection.
Patient at reception of hospital

Ask your surgeon for resources to help you quit smoking or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Even if you can’t quit completely, limit your smoking as much as possible. Remember, you will not be allowed to smoke in the hospital.


The healthier and more active you are going into surgery, the faster and easier your recovery will be. Try walking for 30 minutes with a goal of two miles three times each week. If you have trouble walking, your doctor will recommend a modified exercise program.

Eat nutritious foods

Eating a nutritious diet before surgery can also help with your recovery. Choose foods with plenty of protein, such as lean cuts of meat, chicken, fish, low-fat cheese, protein shakes, nuts and milk. If you have problems eating or swallowing, talk with your surgeon about a nutrition plan.

Important Things to Do the Day Before Surgery

Follow the instructions given to you by your surgeon. For colon surgery, you will usually need to be on a clear diet. Most patients will need to do a bowel prep the evening before surgery. Follow the directions given to you by your surgeon. Do not eat anything on the day of surgery.

After Surgery

It is extremely important for you, the patient, to take an active role in your recovery! Be sure to ask us questions along the way to help you understand what we are asking you to do. We are here to help!

After surgery, our goals are to:

  • Get you out of bed and walking early and often after surgery.
  • Encourage you to eat and drink soon after surgery.
  • Help you control your pain with fewer side effects.

Important Things to Do as You Recover from Your Surgery

Once your surgery is complete, the best thing you can do to is to Get up and Get Going! Your nurses will instruct you on what you need to do to, including sitting, standing and walking, deep breathing exercises, staying hydrated, chewing gum, wearing inflatable boots and doing ankle pumps and rotations to help with blood circulation.

Pain Control

Managing your pain is an important part of your recovery. ChristianaCare’s pain management program will help you have as little pain as possible, recover faster and get you back to the activities you enjoy.

Preventing and treating your pain early is easier than trying to treat pain after it starts, so we have created a plan to stay ahead of your pain. This include a combination of non-opioid pain medications, such as acetaminophen, celecoxib, ibuprofen and/or gabapentin, on a scheduled basis to reduce the amount of narcotics needed to control your pain. Treating pain with opioids alone can lead to drowsiness, lower blood pressure, lower respiratory rate, nausea and constipation.

Your nurse will regularly assess your pain level to help us keep you as comfortable as possible.

Once You Are Home

Complications do not happen often, but it is important for you to know what to look for it you start to feel bad. Once you are home from the hospital, call your doctor if:

  • You have a fever greater than 100.5 degrees for more than six (6) hours.
  • You are vomiting for more than half the day and cannot keep down liquids.
  • You have severe abdominal pain for more than one-to-two (1-2) hours.
  • You have severe diarrhea.
  • You have pus or flow of fluid coming from your incision.
  • You have unequal swelling in your calves.

Patient Checklist

Use this helpful checklist to chart your progress. It will help you keep track of how you are feeling during your stay in the hospital and will give us important feedback to improve your experience and enhance your recovery. We are particularly looking for information about how much you are moving around, any pain or nausea you may experience and how well you are eating and drinking.

Contact Us

Call: 302-733-1000