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Tests Before Surgery

Common Tests Before Surgery, Why They Are Necessary and What They Mean

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Updated May 29, 2014

Blood taking for a test.
Franz Aberham/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

If you need surgery, or your physician thinks you may need surgery, different tests may be ordered to determine the exact nature of the problem as well as your general state of health. These tests range from body scans to blood tests, from the invasive to the barely noticeable.

Every surgery is different, just as every patient is different. So the tests your surgeon orders may be different from the tests described here.

Blood Tests Before Surgery

Blood tests are frequently drawn before surgery. This is done for a number of reasons -- to examine your general state of health, to determine if any signs of infection are present, or to determine how a specific organ is functioning.

The blood tests listed here are among the most common, and may be performed after your surgery is complete in addition to any pre-surgery screening that is done. Having blood drawn does not mean there is a problem, it is often done to spot an issue before it becomes serious.

Drawing Blood Tests Before Surgery

Unless you have a special type of IV inserted prior to surgery, you can expect a member of the hospital staff to draw blood from your vein using a small needle. This process is usually simple, and you should notice little more than a quick pinch as the needle is inserted. The person drawing blood may use a tourniquet in order to find your veins more easily, which is removed once the needle is inserted.

If you have a sensitivity to latex or adhesives, you may want to request that no bandage or tape be used on the site, as the bleeding usually stops quickly. If this is the case, however, be sure that your doctor is aware of this issue, as you may need a bandage on your surgical site after your procedure.

Common Blood Tests Before Surgery

Non-Invasive Testing Before Surgery

Your surgery may also require body scans or imaging. These studies can often help your surgeon determine the exact nature, or extent, of the problem that makes surgery necessary. For example, if you have badly injured your knee, an x-ray may be done to look at the bones of the knee area. But a CT or MRI may be used to determine if the tissues that help make up the knee are also injured or inflamed.

These tests can be performed on a specific area of the body, or they can be done on a region of the body. For example, a CT can look at a specific organ, or the doctor may want to see images of the entire abdomen.

Testing of this nature is not painful and requires only that you are still while the machine is making the images. The MRI works using a large magnet. So you will be required to remove any jewelry or metal you may be wearing, such as rings, earrings and piercings. You will also need to tell the MRI technicians if you have any metal implants such as a hip replacement or pins from an orthopedic surgery. Some implants may prevent an MRI from taking place.

Testing Your Heart Before Surgery

In some cases, additional tests may be ordered to determine the function of your heart. This is especially true if you are having heart surgery, but these tests are often ordered to evaluate your ability to tolerate surgery and anesthesia. In addition to monitoring the ability of the heart to tolerate stresses such as exercise and the normal nerve/electrical conduction of the muscle, the arteries that supply the heart with blood may also be examined.

The Expense of Tests Before Surgery

Before you undergo a battery of tests, you may want to ask if they are covered by your insurance, as they can be expensive. If you are paying for surgery out of your own pocket, you should know if the price you were quoted for the procedure includes the testing that is done before surgery. The tests mentioned in this article range from less than $100 to several thousand dollars each, which does not include repeating the tests before or after surgery.

Source:

Tests Performed Before Surgery. Stanford Hospital and Clinics. Accessed March 7, 2009. http://www.stanfordhospital.com/clinicsmedServices/COE/surgicalServices/generalSurgery/patientEducation/tests

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