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Surgery: What to Expect

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Before Surgery

You will have an appointment with your surgeon before your surgery. For this appointment, take along a surgery question form(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand your treatment.

Your surgeon will explain why your surgery is needed, what it will involve, what its risks and expected outcome are, and how long it will take you to recover. Talk to your surgeon about any concerns you have about the surgery. You may also want to ask about treatments you might try other than surgery.

Most surgery centers and hospitals have a before-surgery form for you to fill out. This form usually includes questions about your medical history and current health.

This information helps the surgical team prepare for your surgery. They are trained to provide you with safe care during your surgery. You most likely will complete the form 1 to 3 days before your surgery.

Talking to your surgeon

Talk to your surgeon about what kinds of surgery you have had in the past. Describe your recovery period, and be sure to mention any problems you may have had.

Describe any health problems you have, such as:

It's important to tell your doctor about any tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs, or medicines you use. This includes over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements, such as St. John's wort and diet aids. Your use of substances or medicines may affect your reaction to anesthesia or pain medicines.

Talk about any physical restrictions you have, such as an artificial joint or limited range of motion of your neck, arms, or legs.

Let your doctor know if you have any metal implants or fragments in your body.

Tell your surgeon if you are or might be pregnant.

Tests before surgery

Before surgery, your surgeon may also ask you to see your regular doctor for an exam and possibly for tests. A surgeon may ask this to make sure that surgery is not likely to be too hard on you. The tests may include:

You may also be scheduled for other tests, such as X-rays or an electrocardiogram (EKG), if your surgeon thinks they are needed before your surgery.

Your surgeon may include other doctors in your care, depending on your other medical conditions. For example, if you have heart problems, your surgeon may discuss your care with a cardiologist.

If you have many medical problems, your regular doctor may do your physical exam before surgery. To help make sure that no problems are missed, you may find it helpful to have a doctor who knows you well do this exam and your medical history.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 05, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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