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Fibrin Sealants

A new class of blood-derived fibrin sealants, distributed by Baxter Healthcare Corporation, can stop oozing from small, sometimes inaccessible, blood vessels during surgery when conventional surgical techniques are not feasible. FDA approved the first of these sealants in May. The main active ingredient of fibrin sealants is fibrinogen, a protein from human blood that forms a clot when combined with thrombin -- another blood protein that helps blood clot. The sealants, which form a flexible material over the oozing blood vessel, can often control bleeding within five minutes.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before You Have Surgery

The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research recommends you ask your physician the following types of questions before having surgery. The answers to these questions will help you be informed and make the best decision about whether to have surgery, by whom, where, and when. Patients who are well-informed about their treatment, according to the agency, are usually more satisfied with the outcome and results.

1. Why Do I Need the Operation?

There are many reasons to have surgery. Some operations can relieve or prevent pain, others can reduce the symptom of a problem or improve some body function, and some surgeries are performed to diagnose a problem. Surgery can also save your life. When your surgeon tells you the purpose of the procedure, make certain you understand how the recommended operation fits in with the diagnosis of your medical condition.

2. Are There Alternatives to Surgery?

Sometimes surgery is not the only answer to a medical problem. Medicines or other nonsurgical treatments might help you just as well or more. Always ask your doctor or surgeon about other possible choices.

3. What Are the Benefits of Having the Operation?

Ask your surgeon what you will gain by having the operation. For example, hip replacement may mean that you can walk again with ease. Ask how long the benefits are likely to last. For some procedures, it is not unusual for the benefits to last for a short time only. There might be a need for a second operation at a later date. For other procedures, the benefits may last a lifetime. Be realistic. Some patients expect too much and are disappointed with the results.

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