Your backbone is made up of 33 vertebrae that are separated by spongy disks. The backbone is classified into four distinct areas:

  • Cervical area - The seven bony parts in the neck
  • Thoracic spine - The 12 bony parts in the back area
  • Lumbar spine - Five bony segments in the lower back
  • Sacral and coccygeal - The lower tip/tailbone area of the spine. By adulthood, the five sacral vertebrae fuse to form one bone and the four coccygeal vertebrae fuse to form one bone.

Throughout your life, your spine helps you move, bend, lift, work, and play. If your spine is injured, it can have a devastating effect on your quality of life. Fortunately, Memorial Health Spine can help.

Pre-Surgery Education

If you are having an elective lumbar or cervical procedure, please plan to attend our pre-surgery class. You will learn how to prepare for surgery and what to expect afterward. Your caregiver or support person is invited to attend with you.

Pre-surgery spine classes are held Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Meet in the pre-surgery testing area at 9:45 a.m. Pre-registration is not required, but it is strongly encouraged.

To pre-register or if you have any questions, contact Donna Scott at (912) 350-0186.

What to Expect From Spine Surgery

We understand that having surgery can be overwhelming. At the Memorial Health Spine Center, we do everything we can to make your experience as comfortable as possible. The information here will let you know what to expect before, during, and after your surgery.

Several Days Before Surgery

You will be asked to attend a pre-surgical education class with a family member or caregiver. We have found that well-informed patients and families are key to a successful surgery. Our pre-surgical class prepares you for surgery, introduces our spine care team, and answers any questions you may have. Pre-surgical classes are held on Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and Fridays at 11 a.m. Call (912) 350-0186 for more information.

Arrival and Check In

You will arrive at Memorial Health University Medical Center through the Day Surgery entrance. Day Surgery offers free valet parking or you may park your car in Parking Deck B. A member of our patient and family centered care team will ask you for your contact information and take you through the check-in process.


You will be taken to our pre-anesthesia care unit. We will conduct some simple tests and prepare you for surgery. You will be asked to remove your clothing and wear a surgical gown. Your personal belongings will be returned to friends or family in the waiting area. You will be taken into a surgical suite and given anesthesia. Your surgery will take from one to three hours, depending on the procedure. Your family will be able to follow your progress on an electronic patient tracking screen in our waiting area.

Waking Up

You will wake up in our post-anesthesia care unit. You will spend one to two hours recovering. Nurses will monitor you to make sure you are not experiencing any problems or severe discomfort. When you are fully awake, you will be transferred to the Memorial Spine unit, located in the ambulatory care unit on the first floor of Memorial Health University Medical Center.

Recovery After Surgery

On the Memorial Health spine surgery unit, specially trained nurses will monitor you and follow evidence-based guidelines to ensure the best outcome. They will help you control your pain, encourage you to move around, encourage you to eat, and encourage you to use the restroom as needed. All of these things help your body begin the road to recovery. A spine surgery coordinator will visit you to provide education, answer questions, and make sure you are comfortable.

Going Home

Your length of stay will depend on the type of surgery you have. Many people are able to return home in less than 24 hours. If you must stay longer, your physician will keep you informed about your approximate length of stay.

While You're Here

If you must stay overnight at Memorial Health University Medical Center, we will make your stay as comfortable as possible. While you’re here, we encourage you to wear your own comfortable clothing, rather than a hospital gown. You’ll have access to a newspaper, a television, and a telephone. You can choose your meals from a menu and have them delivered when you want.