8 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Endoscopic Surgery

What should you expect from endoscopic surgery?

Medically Reviewed by Cynthia Dennison Haines, MD
2 min read

Long before you check into the hospital, you need all the facts about endoscopic surgery. Here are eight questions to ask your doctor.

  • What do I need to do before endoscopic surgery? Your doctor should tell you about any preparations that you need to take - such as restrictions on eating the night before the operation. Make sure you understand exactly what you can and can't do.
  • What happens during the minimally invasive operation? If your surgeon tells you that a procedure will be minimally invasive, get specifics. Find out where the incisions - or ports - for the instruments will be and how many of them will be needed. Ask how long the operation will take.
  • What are the side effects of endoscopic surgery? After any surgery, you should expect some pain. But it might not be where you expect. For instance, the ports for endoscopic surgery may be far from the site of your operation. So be clear on where you will feel discomfort, how severe it will be, and how long it will last.
  • What will happen if you need to switch to open surgery? Occasionally, a surgeon must convert a minimally invasive surgery into traditional open surgery. Find out how likely this is in your case. Ask how it might change the side effects or recovery time.
  • How long until I recover? Some minimally invasive procedures can be done on an outpatient basis, but others can't. You need to have realistic expectations for your recuperation. Get specifics. Ask whether you'll need any physical therapy.
  • What medicines will I need? You will probably need painkillers after the operation. Find out the name and ask about the side effects. Make sure that the medicine won't interact with any other drugs that you need. Ask what to do if your pain reliever isn't helping enough.
  • What are my aftercare instructions? Your doctor should provide you with specific instructions for how to take care of the incision at home. Make sure you understand them. Also, ask about signs of infection or complications you need to watch out for.
  • What happens after I recover? Find out how often you'll need to schedule follow-up appointments. Ask whether you are likely to need further surgery in the future.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Mohamed Ali, MD, director, minimally invasive and robotic surgery, assistant professor of surgery, University of California, Davis. Michael Argenziano, MD, director, minimally invasive cardiac surgery and arrhythmia surgery, New York Presbyterian Hospital; director of surgical arrhythmia program, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center; assistant professor of surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. William J. Hoskins, MD, senior vice president and director, Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute, Memorial Health University Medical Center, Savannah, Ga.; spokesman, American College of Surgeons. Mark A. Malangoni, MD, professor of surgery, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine; surgeon-in-chief, Metrohealth Medical Center, Cleveland; chairman, advisory council for general surgery, American College of Surgeons. Mehmet Oz, MD, director, Cardiovascular Institute, Columbia University Medical Center; professor of surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, New York. Marshall Z. Schwartz, MD, professor of surgery in pediatrics, St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, Philadelphia; chairman, Advisory Council on Pediatric Surgery, American College of Surgeons. Steven D. Wexner, MD, chief of staff and chairman, department of colorectal surgery, Cleveland Clinic Florida; chairman, American College of Surgeons Advisory Council for Colon and Rectal Surgery.

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