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Questions to Ask Before Surgery

Discussing surgery can be an overwhelming task. There are many important things to consider and lots of information to gather. To help you be better organized for a pre-surgery discussion, the American College of Surgeons developed this list of questions that you should consider asking your provider when you are seeing them in the clinic.

  1. Why do I need this operation?
  2. How will the operation be performed?
  3. Are there other treatment options, and is this operation the best option for me?
  4. What are the risks, benefits, and possible complications for this operation? Will my health history and the medications I am currently taking mean the risks, possible complications, and benefits be different for me?
  5. What are my anesthesia options?
    1. What kind of anesthesia is best for me considering my health history, the prescription medications, and vitamins/herbs I take?
    2. How will I be monitored during the operation?
    3. Do I need to be seen in a preoperative anesthesia clinic?
    4. Will I need a blood test or other tests before my surgery?
  6. What can I expect before the operation?
    1. Will I need any special preparation – tests, blood donation, blood thinners, changes in my routine medications?
    2. Will I need a special diet?
    3. When do I have to stop eating and drinking?
    4. Should I take my home medication on the day of my operation?
  7. What can I expect for my recovery in terms of treatment, medication, diet, and home care?
    1. What type of care will I have to provide for myself at home?
    2. When will I be able to return to my regular activities (work, lifting, driving, and exercise)?
    3. Will I need any medication—antibiotics, pain medication?
    4. What can I do to help with my recovery?
    5. Will I have any drains or other tubes when I leave the hospital?
    6. Will I need any special items to care for my surgical site?
  8. Could you tell me about your experience with this operation?
    1. Do you perform this operation regularly?
    2. What is your success rate, and how often do your patients experience problems?
  9. How much will the operation cost me, and what type of insurance do you take?
  10. Are all of the people involved in my operation covered by my insurance (anesthesia, pathology, radiology)?

To access the original list from the American College of Surgeons, click here:

To access more patient resources from the American College of Surgeons, click here:

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