Pre-op appointments

A pre-op appointment is an appointment that you have before surgery so that the surgical and anaesthetic teams can make sure you are physically ready for surgery. It helps them to understand and plan for any potential risks you might face when having an operation.

These appointments typically take place one or two weeks before surgery, but it will vary from team to team.

This will depend on the type of operation you’ll be having and on your own medical history. You can expect your pre-op appointment to last more than an hour and potentially up to 3 hours.

You might see several different professionals during the pre-op appointment and might have to spend time waiting for each. Depending on the hospital, you may or may not see your surgeon during the pre-op.

In a typical pre-op appointment you’ll be asked about your:

  • Medical history
  • Previous operations and experiences with general anaesthetic
  • Allergies
  • Current medications
  • Lifestyle – smoking, drinking and drug use
  • Weight and height – they might ask to weigh you and measure your height.

It’s a good idea to tell them about any specific dietary, access or communication needs at this point.

You’re likely to discuss the plan for your surgery, will be told about any risks and potential complications and will have an opportunity to ask questions.

It’s common for the following tests to be conducted at a pre-op appointment:

  • MRSA swabs – they will ask you to swab your throat and your groin.
  • Urine tests
  • Blood tests

Depending on your medical history, current circumstances and the type of surgery you’re having, you might have the following additional tests:

  • ECG
  • X-ray
  • CT scan

Pre-op appointments usually take place in the hospital you’ll be having your operation at. This can provide a good opportunity for you to familiarise yourself with the hospital and your journey to the hospital if that’s something that would help you prepare for surgery.

If you live a long way from the hospital or might find it hard to travel there, it is sometimes possible to have your pre-op appointment via video call with the pre-op tests conducted by your GP. This will depend on a number of factors, including the type of operation that you’re having.

Remember that if you would feel more comfortable with a friend, family member, or another person present at your pre-op appointment, you are allowed to ask for this.

Your pre-op appointment letter ought to include details of what you ought to bring to your pre-op appointment.

It is a good idea to take:

  • Any relevant medical reports.
  • The dates of any previous surgeries and chest x-rays (if you’ve had any).
  • Your GP’s name and address.
  • A list of your medication (including doses) – it can be helpful to bring your medication in the original boxes.
  • A completed pre-assessment health questionnaire – if you’ve been asked to complete one.
  • A list of any questions you might wish to ask (we’ve included some suggestions later on this page).
  • Your communication passport if you have one. Find out more about talking to professionals about your communication needs on our Communicating about my needs page.
  • Something to read or occupy yourself with in case you’ve got to wait around for some time.

If there are any questions that you didn’t get to ask at your surgical consultation, you might wish to ask them at your pre-op appointment.

You might want to consider asking:

  • Is there anything specific I need to do to prepare for surgery?
  • How soon before surgery will I need to stop eating and drinking?
  • Do I need to shave any part of my body before coming to hospital for surgery?
  • What complications might I experience after surgery? How likely are complications?
  • Can I bring a friend, family or carer to wait with me in hospital before surgery?
  • When will I be able to have visitors? Are there specific visiting times?
  • Can my carer stay with me in hospital?
  • What should I bring to hospital?
  • Where will I need to go on the day of surgery, and at what time?
  • Are there any items that will be useful to help my recovery?
  • Will I be sent home with dressings and medication? If not, what should I buy in advance?
  • Will I wake up with drains? How long are they likely to be in for?
  • Will I wake up with a catheter? What type? How long is it likely to be in for?
  • Will I need to wear a compression device or any specific clothing whilst recovering? If so, will this be provided? How long might I need to wear it for?
  • What sort of support will I need when I’m recovering at home?
  • How long can I expect to stay in hospital?

If you’re travelling abroad for surgery, have a look at our travelling abroad for surgery page for additional questions you might ask.

If you live a long way from the hospital, it might be possible to have your pre-op tests done locally and have the rest of the appointment by video call.

If your GP can’t or won’t support you with any of the pre-op tests, talk to your surgical team: they might to be happy to conduct some aspects of the pre-op appointment the day before or the day of surgery. You won’t know unless you ask.

If you can afford to, it might be an option to get the required tests done by a private GP or hospital.

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A disclaimer: TransActual do not provide medical, health, or legal advice. The content of this page is intended for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a medical professional. It is not a substitute for advice from a legal professional. We strongly suggest you consult a healthcare professional or legal professional for specific advice about your situation. TransActual do not advocate or recommend the purchase of any specific product and we do not endorse or guarantee the credentials or appropriateness of any health care provider, any product or any provider of insurance and legal services.

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