• Answering your questions about surgical anesthesia for orthopedic surgery
  • 90% of joint-replacement surgeries at HSS use regional anesthesia
  • Regional anesthesia has many benefits for the orthopedic patient


Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

All patients are admitted to the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) following surgery and anesthesia at HSS. The length of your stay in the PACU depends on several factors, including demonstrated recovery from anesthesia. If you have had epidural or spinal anesthesia, you must be able to feel and move your legs before being discharged from the PACU.

Pain medicine will be initiated in the PACU. Your pain control regimen may take the form of pills, injections, or patient-controlled analgesia (PCA), sometimes called a "pain pump." Sometimes after surgery, you may require medications to control variations in your vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, or respiratory rate. You will not be discharged from the PACU until your vital signs are stable.

Patients who have lost blood during their surgery may receive blood products in the PACU. In many cases, this blood is donated by the patient prior to surgery.

If you undergo a long and/or complex operation, or have pre-existing medical problems, staff from the PACU may decide to monitor your recovery for a period of time following your operation. The decision to remain in the PACU is made by your anesthesiologist, surgeon, and medical doctor.

Visitation is limited in the PACU to avoid the risk of infection to other patients and to permit the staff to concentrate on the care of these post-surgical patients. For more information, please view the Hospital’s Visitation Policy.