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Tests and visits before surgery


Your surgeon will want to make sure you are ready for your surgery. To do this, you will have some checkups and tests before surgery.

Many different people on your surgery team may ask you the same questions before your surgery. This is because your team needs to have all of the information that give you the best surgery results. Try to be patient if you are asked the same questions more than once.

Pre-op Checkup

Pre-op is the time before your surgery. It stands for “before operation.” During this time, one of your doctors will ask you about your health over the years (this is called “taking your medical history”). Your doctor will also do a physical exam.

  • Your surgeon or primary care doctor may do this.
  • Try to have this checkup at least2 or 3 weeksbefore your surgery. This gives your doctors time to treat any medical problems you may have before your surgery.
  • If you see your primary care doctor for your pre-op checkup, make sure your hospital or surgeon gets the reports from this visit.

Some hospitals will also ask you to meet with a hospital nurse during the week before your surgery. At this visit:

  • The nurse will ask you many questions about your health.
  • You may also have a chest x-ray, some blood tests, or an EKG during this visit. An EKG is a painless test that checks your heart.

You may also see your anesthesiologist the week before surgery. This is the doctor who will make you sleep and not feel pain during surgery.

Visits with Other Doctors

Your primary care doctor or surgeon may ask you to see other doctors to make sure you are healthy before surgery. This may be because you:

  • Have other health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes
  • Have risk factors for these or other conditions

Your surgeon will want to know that other health conditions you may have will not cause any problems during your surgery. Because of this, you may need to visit a:

  • Heart doctor(cardiologist), if you are older than 55, have a history of heart problems (or family with heart problems, smoke heavily, have high blood pressure or diabetes, or are out of shape and cannot walk up a flight of stairs.
  • Doctor who treats diseases of the digestive tract (gastroenterologist), if you have had surgery on your stomach, small intestine, or esophagus (the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach). You may also need to see a gastroenterologist if you have severe reflux, heartburn, or a hiatal hernia (a condition that causes food and acid from your stomach to flow back into your esophagus).
  • Diabetes doctor(endocrinologist),if you have diabetes  or if your blood sugar test in your pre-op visit was high.
  • Sleep doctor,if you have obstructive sleep apnea (this causes choking or a stop in breathing when you are asleep)
  • Doctor who treats blood disorders (hematologist), if you have had blood clots in the past or close relatives who have had blood clots.

Tests Before Surgery

Your surgeon may tell you need some tests before surgery. Some of these tests are for all patients. Others are done only if you are at risk for certain health conditions.

Some common tests that your surgeon will ask you to have if you have not had them recently are:

  • Blood tests (a complete blood count (CBC) and kidney, liver, and blood sugar tests)
  • Chest x-ray
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)

Some doctors or surgeons may also ask you to have other tests. This will depend on:

  • Your age and general health
  • Health risks or problems you may have
  • The type of surgery you are having

Other tests you may have are:

  • Tests that look at the lining of your bowels or stomach, such as a colonoscopy or upper endoscopy
  • Heart stress test or other heart tests
  • Lung function tests
  • Imaging tests, such as an MRI scan, CT scan, or ultrasound test

Make sure the doctors who do your pre-op tests send the results to your surgeon. This will help keep your surgery from being delayed.

Review Date: 4/12/2012
Reviewed By: Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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