Skip to Content

Preoperative checklist

Medical Optimization/Surgical Risk Assessment

Your surgeon will let you know if you need a surgical risk assessment from your family doctor and/or specialist. 

  • If needed, schedule an appointment 30 or more days before your surgery
  • You will be given a surgical risk assessment form to take to your doctor for completion
  • When scheduling these appointments, please tell your physician's office that you need a "preoperative exam/optimization appointment"

Schedule other exams and procedures

Dental exams

  • Good dental health is very important prior to surgery
  • Schedule a dental exam 6 months prior to your surgery to be sure you are infection free and to complete any necessary dental work you may need

Invasive procedures

  • If you have any procedures scheduled or that need to be done, please call our team
  • Some procedures will need to be coordinated with the scheduling of your shoulder surgery


  • Should be completed at least two weeks prior to surgery
  • Please make sure these are given in your nonoperative arm

Preoperative appointments

Plan on spending 1-2 hours at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for your preoperative appointments.

  • Ask a family member or friend to accompany you during your preoperative appointments
  • Your appointments may be scheduled in different areas of the Hershey Campus
  • There is a shuttle bus to transport you if needed

The following will occur during the preoperative appointment with your surgeon and their team:

  • Review details, risks, and benefits of the surgery
  • You will be asked to sign a surgical consent form
  • Receive your Rotator Cuff Surgery Guidebook
  • You will be fitted for your shoulder sling, which you will need after surgery
  • Have questions about your surgery and recovery answered

Many patients do not require an appointment with the anesthesia clinic, however, if necessary, the following will occur during this appointment:

  • Discuss your anesthesia options
  • Perform a physical examination to be sure that there are not other medical issues of concern with regard to the anesthesia
  • Receive directions regarding how to take your daily medications immediately before and after your surgery

Prepare your home for recovery

Prior to surgery it is recommended that you make the following preparations:

  • Remove throw rugs and any other items that could cause trips or falls
  • Place night-lights in your bedroom and bathroom
  • Consider putting safety bars beside your toilet and in your shower
  • Consider how to rearrange your home for your postoperative period when you will be unable to use your operative arm
  • Be sure lamps are positioned where you can reach them with your nonoperative arm

We recommend that you spend time doing your routine activities in your home without using your operative arm.  This will help you plan for your recovery period.

Pick up medications

You will want to have your medications on hand before having surgery:

  • Pick up any medications at your pharmacy that have been prescribed by your surgical team
  • Pick up a stool softener, such as Colace or Senokot, and a laxative as pain medication often causes constipation

Arrange for care and transportation 

Discharge usually occurs the same day as your surgery.

  • Make arrangements for someone to stay with you for a few days after your surgery
  • You will need transportation to all clinic and therapy appointments
  • Arrange for someone to be available to transport you if any unplanned appointments or needs arise.

Physical therapy

When you start therapy will depend on what your physician finds during your surgery. Do not begin formal therapy until you are instructed to do so by your surgical team.

  • Before your surgery, select a therapy practice and check with them to see if they accept your health insurance
  • When it is time for you to begin therapy, you will be given a prescription and protocol to take to your therapy practice. This will help guide your therapist and provide our contact information
  • If you would like to have your physical therapy at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, it can be arranged by the Bone and Joint Institute staff

Rotator Cuff Surgery Guidebook

Read your Rotator Cuff Surgery Guidebook and contact our team with any questions.