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Preparing for Surgery

Wednesday February 27, 2019

There are several reasons why you may need to have surgery, including to relieve pain, to confirm a diagnosis, or to provide a cure to a life-threatening disease. While no two surgeries are identical because no two patients are identical, there are some basic things that every patient can do to prepare for surgery and can expect during the process.

Pre-operative Evaluation
Prior to having any surgery, you must first be screened to determine whether you are an appropriate surgical candidate. The screening includes a thorough review of your medical history, bloodwork, an EKG, and possibly a chest X-ray depending on your age and other preexisting medical conditions. If all of your test results are normal the evaluation stops there and you get the seal of approval. If any one of those tests comes back abnormal, you may require further evaluation.

The Night Before Surgery
Depending on the surgical procedure, you may have a long list of “dos and don’ts” for the day and night before. If you have any special orders, they will be given and explained to you by a healthcare professional. One rule that almost always applies for any surgical procedure is no eating or drinking anything after midnight on the night before surgery.

The Day of Surgery
On the day of surgery, the first place you will stop is registration, where you will receive an armband. Your armband will have vital information about you, including your name, date of birth, and any medication allergies you may have.
Once you leave registration, you will go to the pre-operative holding area where a nurse will verify all the information on your armband. The nurse will then take a set of vitals and ask you about the surgical procedure that you are having.

While in the pre-operative holding area, you will meet the physician who administers the medications to put you to sleep during surgery the anesthesiologist. At that time, you can ask him or her all the questions you may have regarding anesthesia.

You will also see your surgeon in the holding area. Your surgeon will explain to you the details of your surgical procedure and answer any questions you may have about the actual procedure.

After both the anesthesiologist and the surgeon have explained everything to you, you will be asked to sign an informed consent form for the scheduled procedure. Once consent is obtained, you will proceed to the operating room. In the operating room, the all-important armband will be checked again by the operating room nurse. It is one last check to make sure the right surgery is being performed on the right person.

After Surgery
After the surgery is over, you will leave the operating room and go to the recovery room where you will be monitored very closely by the nursing staff. If the surgery was a minor procedure, you will be discharged home from the recovery room once stable. If the procedure was major, you will be admitted to hospital from the recovery room to either a regular bed or a bed in the intensive care unit. Once you have left the recovery room, your surgical adventure is officially over.

Remember, if you do not understand what is happening or why, always ask questions. There will always be someone along the way who will be happy to answer your questions and maybe even ask you a few more.

By Sharnell S. Smith, MD
Fort Washington Medical Center