Preparing patients for spinal fusion surgery

A nurse assists as a spinal fusion surgery patient practices giving a medical dummy an IV drug.
Hands-on experience before surgery day: A simulation of what to expect during spinal fusion surgery.

Several studies have contributed to the school of thought that thoroughly preparing patients for surgery can reduce their anxiety and even lead to better recoveries and outcomes. That notion appears to be corroborated by the first-hand experience of Michael Glotzbecker, MD, a pediatric spine specialist and surgeon in the Boston Children’s Hospital Spinal Program.

“In my experience, patients do better when they are well prepared for surgery,” says Glotzbecker.

That’s why Glotzbecker, who performs dozens of spinal fusion surgeries each year, joined forces with Brianna O’Connell, a child life specialist and program lead of simulation programs for patients and caregivers at the Boston Children’s SIMPeds Simulator Program, to create an immersive preparatory experience for patients and their families. The simulation included a realistic pre-op station, operating room, recovery room and inpatient hospital room as well as all the medical equipment and procedures that patients will experience during their stay at the hospital. It also prepared patients for what to expect after discharge home.

The spinal fusion simulation was a first-time pilot event, held in April 2017, for patients and families planning to have spinal fusion surgeries this summer. The attendees have already provided positive feedback about the simulation. Now, anyone around the world can virtually experience the simulation through our step-by-step photo gallery of “what to expect during spinal fusion.”

Visit the spinal fusion photo gallery on our Thriving blog.