What Happens During A Preoperative Exam?

It’s completely natural to feel anxious or scared if you need to have surgery when you’re unsure what to expect. But there’s an important step before surgery that will help ease the process and give you a greater sense of control and understanding, and that’s a preoperative exam. Also called a preoperative assessment or evaluation, a pre-op exam is a critical step in preparing you for surgery and ensuring that you’re ready. 

Here’s everything you need to know about pre-op exams, why they’re important, what they involve, and what you can expect.

Why Are Preoperative Exams Important?

Preoperative exams play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and success of surgical procedures. They help the medical/surgical team determine if you’re in good enough health to undergo surgery and if any special precautions need to be taken. 

The exam also helps identify any underlying health conditions or complications that could arise during or after surgery, such as an increased risk of bleeding, an adverse reaction to anesthesia, or the development of a postoperative infection.

In addition to ensuring your safety, preoperative exams can help to optimize your health and minimize the risk of complications. For example, if you have a history of heart disease, a pre-op exam may include tests to evaluate your cardiac function and determine if any additional measures, such as medication adjustments or additional monitoring, are necessary.

What Does a Preoperative Exam Involve?

The specifics of a preoperative exam will vary depending on the type of surgery, the patient’s age, health status and underlying health conditions. However, there are several common components of a preoperative exam, including:

  • Medical history review: The medical team will review your medical history, including any past surgeries, illnesses and current medications. They may also ask about your family medical history and any allergies they may have.
  • Physical examination: Before surgery, your doctor will check your vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate), as well as examine your body for any signs of illness or infection.
  • Laboratory tests: The surgical team may request a variety of tests, such as blood or urine tests, to assess your overall health and identify any potential risks. For example, a blood test may be performed to evaluate blood count, electrolyte levels, and liver and kidney function.
  • Imaging tests: Depending on the type of surgery, the medical team may request imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans or MRI scans to get a better understanding of your anatomy — specifically the area being operated on — plus any underlying health conditions they should be aware of.
  • Cardiac evaluation: If you have a history of heart disease or if the surgery is expected to be particularly demanding, the medical team may perform a cardiac evaluation to assess your cardiac function. This may include an electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram or stress test.
  • Specialty consultations: In some cases, the medical team may request consultations with a specialty physician, such as a cardiologist, pulmonologist or endocrinologist, to evaluate any underlying health conditions that could impact the ultimate surgical outcome.

What Can You Expect During a Preoperative Exam?

A preoperative exam can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the type of surgery and your health status. 

It’s important to be honest and forthcoming with your doctor during the preoperative exam. This will help them get an accurate picture of your health status and identify any potential risks. If you have any concerns or questions about the exam, make sure to raise them with the medical team so they can address them.

Remember to bring a list of all your medications, including any prescription medications, over-the-counter medications and supplements to the preoperative exam. Your doctor may need to adjust your medications before the surgery or advise you to stop taking certain medications to minimize the risk of complications.

It’s a good idea to have a trusted friend or family member accompany you to the preoperative exam, as well as the surgery itself. They can help you remember important information discussed during the exam, provide emotional support, and assist with transportation and postoperative care if needed.

Schedule a Pre-Op Exam With Richfield Medical Group

Richfield Medical Group provides pre-op exam evaluations to set you up for a safe and successful surgery. We’ll happily answer any questions or concerns you may have, prepare you for what to expect, and set up a plan to get you back on your feet. 

If you need surgery, we’re here to help you. Get in touch to schedule an exam today.