Welcome to the University Health Network

UHN is a teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto, including four sites: The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (PM), Toronto General Hospital (TGH), Toronto Western Hospital (TWH), and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (TR).

You will have your surgery at either TGH, TWH or PM. Your Pre-Admission Clinic visit may be at a different location than your surgery.

How to use this guide

This guide is for you and your caregivers to use before, during and after your surgery. We recommend downloading the mobile app or bookmarking this webpage in your mobile device to have with you at the hospital for your Pre-Admission Clinic visit and surgery. Your surgeon may add to this information at any time.

You can use it to learn:

  • more about what to expect
  • how you can communicate with your health care team
  • about resources to meet your needs

The health care team at UHN will work very hard to get you back home as soon as possible. You, your family or support person are an important part of the team. Please talk to any member of your health care team if you have questions.

We welcome your feedback. Please fill out our evaluation form . Your comments and suggestions can help us improve this surgery guide.

This section

This section of the guide has specific information about your surgery including:

  • Preparing for my surgery
  • Important things to remember

Need help?

Automated Surgery Helpline Toronto Western Hospital:
Phone: 416 603 5211

For Toronto General Hospital or Princess Margaret patients:
Phone: your surgeon's office

Preparing for My Surgery

The following sections will help you prepare for your surgery:

What can I do to get ready for my surgery?

Here are ways to take care of both your body and your mind so you are ready for your surgery:

  • Stay as active as you are able to.
  • A balanced diet is important. Try to eat healthy foods before your surgery.
  • Call your family doctor or surgeon if you have medical concerns.
  • Your health care team wants to make sure you have the right medications and treatment before and after your surgery.
  • Tell your medical team if you are taking blood thinners, herbal medicines or other substances.
    • Examples of blood thinners are Coumadin® (Warfarin), Aspirin® or Plavix® and Vitamin E.
    • Some over-the-counter medications may cause side effects. Let your medical team know about anything you are taking.
  • Keep taking all your usual medications unless your health care team tells you otherwise.
  • Shower or bathe the night before and the morning of surgery to help clean your skin and lower your risk of infection after surgery.

Planning for after your surgery — Start early!

It is important to plan ahead for when you leave the hospital (also known as being "discharged"), even before your surgery day. Planning early for your discharge can help you feel less worried and anxious.

You may be told the same day that you will be discharged. Whenever possible, we will let you know you are going to be discharged before the actual date, but sometimes we might not know until the same day. If you have any questions, talk to a member of your health care team.

Here's what you can do before coming to the hospital for your surgery:

  1. Arrange for someone to help you at your residence after your surgery. Depending on your surgery, you may need help for a few days or a few weeks. You will need help with things like laundry, cleaning, cooking and grocery shopping.
  2. Ask someone to help you look after the people or pets in your care. Try to plan this before coming to the hospital for surgery.
  3. Make your meals ahead of time.
  4. Ask your surgeon or other health care provider:
    • When can I return to my usual activities, such as cooking, driving, cleaning, exercising or doing yard work?

 Arrange for someone to help you leave the hospital or help you transition to your next location or place of residence. The health care team will contact that person when you are ready to be picked up.

How can I help the health care team plan for my discharge?

Talk to your health care team (surgeon, nurse or social worker) about your needs and worries. We will try to help with any concerns you have about leaving the hospital.

How can my caregivers be involved in my care?

UHN is limiting who can enter the hospital or visit on hospital property to lower the risk of spreading COVID-19 to patients and the staff who care for them.

We know that family, friends and others who support you are important for your recovery. Although we are not able to let them join you at the hospital at this time, we will do our best to include them in your care.

Only approved Essential Care Partners can enter the hospital or visit on hospital property at this time. An Essential Care Partner is a support person who is very important to the safety and well-being of a patient while they are in the hospital. An Essential Care Partner might be a family member, friend, neighbour, paid private caregiver or someone else.

Your Essential Care Partner can, with your permission:

  • Share information with your health care team that will help us meet your needs. At UHN, many nursing teams give reports to each other at the patient's bedside. The Taking Care of Myself After My Surgery section of this guide provides information about how you and your caregivers can take part.
  • Help you and your health care team make decisions about your care.
  • Help with your care at the hospital and after surgery.
  • Bring you food from home, but please check with your nurse or dietitian first. You may have special needs after surgery.
  • Help prevent the spread of germs by washing hands before entering and leaving the hospital, and when entering and leaving a patient room. Hand sanitizer can be found in all areas of the hospital.

For more information about our visitor policy during the COVID-19 pandemic please speak with a member of your health care team or see the UHN COVID-19 page.

Please note: Patient and visitor lounges on inpatient units are closed during COVID-19.

  Essential Care Partners must check themselves for signs of illness before coming to visit. If they are sick, they should stay at home and visit you when they feel better. Visit the Patient Safety section for a list of symptoms.

Where can my Essential Care Partner and I stay near the hospital?

Patient and Family Services provides a list of nearby places to stay.

Some hotels may offer a reduced rate for patients of the hospital and their families. Ask the Pre-Admission Clinic for a letter to give to the hotel to qualify for possible discounted rates.

UHN Cares About Patient Safety

Protecting yourself and your Essential Care Partner from spreading infections when at our hospital

It is important that you and your Essential Care Partner feel well before coming to the hospital. If you or your Essential Care Partner experience any of the symptoms below, you may make other patients or health care workers in the hospital sick.


Before coming to the hospital, check for any of these symptoms in the past 24 hours:

  • A new cough or a cough that is getting worse
  • A fever (above 38 °C or 100 °F), or chills, or both
  • Diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath (worse than usual)
  • Severe headache (worse than usual)
  • Muscle aches
  • Extreme fatigue or feeling very tired
  • Vomiting (throwing up)
  • Sore throat
  • New rash

If you have any of these symptoms and you are having surgery soon, call your surgeon's office right away. Your surgeon will give you more instructions.

If your visitors have any of these symptoms, ask them not come to the hospital to visit you. Your visitors can come to see you when they feel better.

When you arrive at the hospital, you will be screened again for symptoms

All patients and Essential Care Partners must wear an approved medical mask at all times while in the hospital.

  • Entrance screening staff will give you a mask and explain how to put it on properly. They will only give 1 mask per day.
  • If you are wearing a mask from home, staff will give you a medical mask to wear instead. Always put your reusable mask in a bag after removing it.
  • Make sure the mask covers both your nose and mouth at all times.
  • You may remove your mask to eat or drink. Clean your hands first and remove it carefully. Do not touch your face. Always use clean hands when putting on or taking off your mask.
  • Continue to maintain physical distancing (2 metres) inside the hospital.
  • If you are a patient who has a legitimate medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, contact your UHN doctor or nurse practitioner's office before your appointment. If your exemption is approved, you will receive a Face Mask Exemption Form. You must show this form to the entrance screeners when you come to the hospital. You will be given a face shield to wear instead.

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