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Nova Scotia Health completes surgeries at various hospital and clinics and offers a variety of services and supports to help patients who require surgery.

Surgeries and surgical procedures are completed at more than a dozen locations across the province. Some types of surgeries are only available at certain locations. 

Surgeries are provided at most regional hospitals, some community hospitals, and through partnerships with some outside clinics.​

Surgery Banner

How do I get scheduled for surgery?

Your primary health care provider may refer you to a specialist/surgeon to determine if surgery is needed or could help with an illness, condition or injury. 

Your surgeon will discuss options with you to help you understand the benefits, risks and what is involved. Once a decision is made to go ahead with surgery, you will be added to a wait list based on need. 

Many surgeries are considered elective and can safely wait. These surgeries are scheduled for a later time. Others are considered to be urgent or an emergency and will occur quite quickly.

How quickly you are scheduled for surgery will depend on how urgently you require care and how many patients are waiting for surgery. 

Most elective surgery patients are provided with a surgery date a few weeks ahead of their surgery.

Information on surgical wait times can be found on the Nova Scotia Wait Times website:

You should contact your surgeon or primary health care provider if your condition changes or becomes worse while you are waiting.

How do I prepare for my surgery?

Your surgeon will let you know of any steps you need to take to prepare for your surgery. 

  • Medications and Supplements
    • Some patients may be directed to stop taking certain medications or supplements before surgery. It is important for your health care team to know any medications or supplements you are taking. 
  • Testing
    • Depending on the type of surgery you are having, and your overall health, tests testing such as blood-work or x-rays may be ordered before your surgery. 
  • Clinics
  • Physiotherapy
    • You may be encouraged to take part in physical therapy to build strength before your surgery or to help with your recovery. A referral may be required to access these services in hospital or through a private clinic.
  • Equipment
    • Your health care team will advise if you need to arrange for certain equipment to help with your recovery. 

It is important that patients know what to expect and feel they have all the information they need about their surgery. We recommend that you make a list of questions to ask your health care team.

Will I have to stay in hospital after my surgery?

The vast majority of surgeries are completed as outpatient surgery. This means that you arrive at the hospital the day of your surgery and return home later that same day.

Other surgeries require a hospital stay. These are known as inpatient surgeries. How long you will stay in hospital depends on the surgery you are having, your overall health, and how quickly you recover after your surgery.

Some patients will be admitted prior to the day of their surgery while other will be admitted the same day. This depends on the surgery you are having, your overall health and if any tests needs to happen prior to your surgery.

Your health care team will talk to you about what to expect.

What can I expect on the day of my surgery?

Your health care team will provide you with instructions and let you know what to expect. What happens the day of surgery can vary between locations and based on the surgery you are having.
Most patients can expect the following:

  • You will be told where to register when you come for surgery.
  • You will need to show your Nova Scotia Health Card and to confirm your insurance information.
  • You will be asked to leave all your valuables at home or leave these with whoever may be accompanying you. 
  • If you are having day surgery, you may need to have someone available to drive you home after the surgery. Staff will ask who is driving you and how they can be reached.
  • From the registration area you will be directed to the surgery department to prepare for your surgery. 
  • You will be asked to change into hospital clothing and slippers.
  • A nurse will ask you some questions, including when you last ate and drank.
  • A nurse may also take your weight and height and check other things such as your temperature or blood sugar levels. 
  • After your procedure you will be moved to recovery room.

What can I expect after my surgery?

Your health care team will talk to you about what to expect after surgery and the things you can do to support your recovery. 

This might include telling you what side effects might be common, any activities to avoid, how to control pain, how can you help your recovery, signs of infection or other complications to watch for, and where you should call if you have a concern.

Questions you might want to ask your health care team include:

  • What possible side effects should I look for after treatment?
  • What are the signs of infection?
  • What do I do about constipation?
  • What kind of timeframe am I looking at for recovery?
  • What activities am I allowed to do? What should I avoid?
  • What medications am I allowed to take?
  • Can I drive?
  • Can I travel?
  • Can I drink alcohol?
  • Will I have a follow-up appointment? 

National Surgical Quality Improvement Program

We are proud to have 11 Nova Scotia hospitals participating in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP). 
Through this program, registered nurses (surgical clinical nurse reviewers), collect information from patients after their surgery. This helps us look for areas in surgical care that can be improved. 

One of our nurses may call you 30 days after your surgery to have a short discussion about your recovery from your procedure. Your participation is voluntary and can help us improve surgical care for our patients.

Clinics, Programs, and Services

Cardiac Surgery

Offered at 1 location

The cardiac surgery division of the Maritime Heart Centre is located in the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre on Robie Street in central Halifax. Surgeons that work  at the...

Cardiovascular Surgery Clinic

Offered at 1 location

The clinic is dedicated for clients with cardiovascular disease, pre and post surgical consult. This may entail coronary artery, valvular disease, aneurysmal disease and vascular Peripheral Arterial Disease.

As part...


Vascular Surgery Clinic

Offered at 3 locations

This clinic provides surgical and non-surgical care for people with vascular disease. This includes people with Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD, venous disease and aneurysms).


Patient Education Resources

Managing Pain After Surgery

| .pdf

This pamphlet explains why you may have pain after surgery, why it is important to control your pain, what your health care team will do to help control your pain, what you can do to keep it under control, kinds of pain medication you will get in the hospital, side effects of pain medications, and more. This pamphlet is also available in French.

Accessing Primary Care

There are many ways to access primary care, even if you're not currently attached to a primary care provider.

Answer a few quick questions to receive personalized instructions for accessing Nova Scotia Health's primary care options near you including in-person, virtual and telephone options.

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Find Emergency Care

Use this tool to identify the emergency care options that are currently available nearest to you.

If this is a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1 for immediate assistance

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YourHealthNS App

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