What to Expect At Your Pre-Op Appointment

In the weeks, days, and hours leading up to surgery, you may undergo a variety of pre-operative tests and examinations to make sure it is safe for you to undergo the procedure. How many and what types of tests you need will depend on your age, medical condition, and the surgical procedure you are about to have.

Here are some of the possibilities.

The Plan

Once you meet with your surgeon to discuss the details of the operation, sign your consent, and set a date for surgery, you will be scheduled for a "pre-op" examination and testing. Routine pre-op exams are usually performed within a week of your scheduled surgery date.

The Work-Up

If you are already a patient in a hospital, your pre-op testing will be done there. If not, a doctor, nurse practitioner, physician's assistant, or other allied health professional will perform a general pre-op "workup."

This normally includes a physical examination, report of medical history, blood and urine tests, and possibly a referral for an ECG or EKG and chest x-ray. The healthcare provider will also review all medications and supplements you take on a regular basis and let you know if you need to stop taking any of them prior to surgery.

An anesthesiologist may review your pre-op assessment, perform an anesthesia evaluation, inform your surgeon of any potential problems, and request further testing prior to clearing you for surgery, if necessary.

The more complicated your medical condition, the more tests you may need and the more time in advance of surgery you may have to allow for them. If you have a chronic health problem unrelated to your surgery, such as diabetes or kidney disease, you may also require further workup and more tests.

At your pre-op appointment, a healthcare provider will explain your surgery and what to expect during recovery. This is also your opportunity to ask any last minute questions you have about your surgery and recovery.

The Best Outcome

Christine Gooley, Nurse Practitioner at the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital Preoperative Assessment Clinic, points out that getting patients physically ready for surgery, first and foremost, means making sure the procedure is safe. "For elective surgeries, the patient must be in his/her best shape possible before heading into the operating room, " she says. "It's all about ensuring a good outcome for the patient."

A Reminder

The day before your surgery, you should get a phone call from the surgeon's office reminding you what time you are expected to arrive the next day and to not eat or drink anything after midnight that night. You will also be reminded not to take any medications unless you have prior approval, and to bring prescribed medications with you to the hospital on the day of your surgery.

If you miss any of your pre-op appointments, or any of your tests need to be redone for any reason, you may have to reschedule your surgery. If you are not cleared for surgery, your doctor will notify your surgeon and reschedule you for another pre-op exam and re-evaluation. When it comes to something as serious as surgery, it pays to be as well prepared as possible.

Christine Gooley, APRN, BC, reviewed this article.




Christine Gooley, APRN, BC , e-mail message to author, July 2, 2013.

A. Zambouri "Preoperative Evaluation and Preparation for Anesthesia and Surgery"  Hippokratia 2007 Jan-Mar; 11(1):13-21