All patients usually have an appointment with the surgeon prior to the surgery. While going on this appointment, it is best the patient takes along a list of questions about the surgery.

The surgeon will explain the need for the surgery, what it involves, the risk and expected outcomes, and the timeline required for recovery. The patient is advised to talk to his surgeons about any concerns he may have concerning the surgery. The patient may also need to ask about treatments that he may try aside the surgery.

Most medical facilities have a pre-surgery form that the patient can fill out. The form includes medical history and current health status. This information helps the medical team to prepare adequately for the surgery. The medical team is trained to give you safe care all through the surgery. The form can be completed 1 to 3 days before the surgery.

Tips to prepare for surgery

Feel free to describe all health problems you may have, such as:

  • Cardiac problems
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Sleep apnea
  • Food allergies and allergies to other substances
  • Bleeding problems or use of blood-thinning medications such as clopidogrel, warfarin or aspirin.
  • Recent flu infection, fever or cold.

You may also need to inform your doctor of any alcohol, tobacco, medicines or illegal drugs you may have been using. This includes vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter medicines. The substances you use may affect your reaction to pain medicines or anesthesia.

You may also need to talk about the physical restrictions or disabilities you may have such as limited range of motion of the arms, neck or legs, and an artificial joint. There is also the need to inform your doctor of your pregnancy status.

Tips to get ready for surgery

Your surgeon may recommend some physical exams or tests prior to the surgery. This is done to ensure that the surgery will not be too tough on you. Tests ordered may include:

  • Urine tests
  • Blood tests
  • Blood clotting tests
  • X-rays and electrocardiogram

Depending on your medical condition, other doctors may be enlisted to care for you apart from the surgeon. To avoid mistakes, it is best that your personal doctor carries out the tests and physical exams.

Blood donation

If there’s need for blood during the surgery, then the patient should do well to donate his own blood. This may be done weeks before the date of the surgery.

Preparing for surgery

Your nurse or surgeon may ask you to do the following prior to the test:

  • Come along with X-rays or the results of other tests you may have done.
  • Ensure you obey the doctor’s instructions on when and when not to eat or drink. If you are asked to take some medications on the day of surgery, do this with only a little amount of water.
  • Avoid using aspirin or any other NSAID at least a week before the surgery.
  • Leave your valuables and money at home.
  • Come along with things that may be needed after the surgery such as an inhaler for asthmatics. You may also go along with your insurance information if you have any.
  • If you are having what is known as a same day surgery, then adequate arrangement should be made for someone to drive you home after the surgery.
  • Avoid using perfumes, body lotion or cologne on the day of the surgery.

Surgical risk

The risks of surgery depends on the type of surgery and the characteristics of the patient. Surgeries with the highest risk include:

  • Heart surgery or lung surgery
  • Surgery of the liver
  • Prolonged abdominal surgeries or that which has an increased risk of bleeding
  • Removal of the prostate gland
  • Major joint and bone operations (such as hip replacement).

Generally, if a person has a very poor health status, then the risk of surgery may be higher. Health problems that increases the risk of surgery include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • History of heart failure
  • History of transient ischemic attack or stroke
  • Poor feeding or under-nutrition
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • A weak immune system (for instance due to prolonged treatment with corticosteroids)

Older people are faced with a higher risk than they younger ones. Also, risks are determined by the overall health status other than age.  Factors that increases the risk of surgery such as infections, dehydration, heart failure, angina etc. should be treated before an operation takes place.

Making a choice to undergo a surgery is not an easy one. Usually, most ailments have non-surgical treatment options, and there may be a number of possible surgical procedures. Thus, a person may get a second opinion before going for a surgery. A few health insurance plans may require a second plan for elective surgery. However, there may be disagreements among experts on which doctor should issue the second opinion.

  • Some experts caution against getting a second opinion from a non-surgeon to eliminate any bias toward surgical treatment.
  • Other experts advise that a second opinion should be given by another surgeon who has more knowledge on the advantages and disadvantages of surgery than would a non-surgeon doctor.