5 Steps to Help You Prepare for Surgery

Undergoing any surgical procedure is no easy task.  Not only does a patient experience the physical tolls of surgery, but there are often psychological, emotional, and financial consequences.  Understanding what lies ahead and successfully preparing for your surgery can, at the very least, make the experience better and improve outcomes.

Preparing for surgery begins by having a thorough discussion with you surgeon about the indications for surgery, the proposed procedure, and expected post-operative recovery.  Make sure your surgeon takes the time to adequately cover each of these points.  Before you agree to a procedure, you should understand the risks, benefits, alternatives, and indications for the proposed surgery.  If your surgeon does not offer this information, you should ask questions and be as detailed as needed to feel comfortable with your decision to proceed with surgery.  Informed consent is step one.

Depending on the type of surgery and the magnitude of the procedure, you may be asked to undergo a pre-operative medical assessment to ensure your general health is adequate such that surgery can be performed safely.  This is often done by your primary health care provider (PCP) or subspecialist such as a cardiologist, depending on each patient’s history and specific circumstances.  This evaluation may also include a review of current medications you are taking that may need to be stopped or modified prior to surgery.

Optimizing your personal health and well-being prior to surgery will help ensure the best possible outcomes.  Patients undergoing even the smallest of surgical procedures generally do better when they are at their physical best.  This may include proper nutrition, weight control, and appropriate treatment of medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma.  Your surgeon may have specific recommendations based on the type of surgery planned or the necessary post-operative rehabilitation.  If you develop any illness or health problems in the weeks or days leading up to your surgery date, you should contact your doctor’s office so that appropriate care is received.  Occasionally, surgical procedures need to be re-scheduled.  This is much easier for patient and physician alike when done a few days prior to surgery as opposed to the day of surgery.

It is very helpful to become as educated about your surgery as possible.  This may come from direct interaction with friends or family who have undergone the same type of surgery.  Hospitals frequently offer patient education courses for procedures such as hip and knee replacement that allow patients to learn about the surgery, rehab, and other patient related issues prior to their procedure.  Speaking with others about their experience can provide unique insight as to the best ways to prepare or recover from your surgery.

Finally, patients can experience anxiety prior to surgery due to financial concerns.  Generally, all elective procedures must be pre-authorized by your insurance company.  Patients should be aware of their insurance plan coverage for surgical care including coverage for outpatient or inpatient services.  Understanding your financial obligations ahead of time will take much of the guess work away and lower your level of anxiety.

It is often said, that knowledge is power.  The more you know about your surgery, the better of you will be.  Five steps that can increase your knowledge include:

Informed consent

Pre-operative clearance

Health optimization

Experience of others

Financial awareness

Specialty Orthopedic Surgery is devoted to your musculoskeletal health and well-being.  We look forward to providing care the keeps you moving.

Written by Dr. Judd Cummings

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