Preoperative Clearance Q & A
by: Ameeta Walia, DO, FACC, FASE
What is Pre-Operative Clearance?
A pre-op clearance is a medical check-up performed shortly before surgery. During a pre-op appointment, the doctor will verify that the patient is in good enough health to have the scheduled surgery. The pre-op clearance appointment is typically performed around 2 weeks before the surgery is scheduled.
What Happens During a Pre-Op Clearance?
The doctor will go over the entire medical history of the patient, in particular, their past surgeries. If there has been any type of complications during anesthesia or surgery in the past, the doctor will discuss that with the patient and will plan for how to avoid a similar situation in the upcoming surgery. The pre-op clearance is also an important time for the patient to ask questions and get answers about their condition and their surgery. The doctor will review all of the patient’s current medications, both prescription and non-prescription, with them. At this time, the doctor may give the patient instructions regarding taking those medications before surgery. Some medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are generally not permitted before surgery so the doctor will give specific instructions on how and when to discontinue such medicines. The doctor will perform an overall check-up, focusing on the area where surgery is planned. This includes a review of the most recent Electrocardiogram and may include some type of heart testing or monitoring for cardiac surgery patients.
How Can a Patient Prepare For Their Surgery?
The doctor will give each patient specific instructions that will help them prepare for their surgery. Generally, this will include fasting the night before the procedure, as anesthesia must be administered on an empty stomach. Patients should plan for a friend or family member to take them to the surgical appointment and take them home after they are released. It is also very helpful to have the home ready for recovery, including fresh sheets on the bed, cell phone and computer chargers in easy reach, and water bottles on a bedside table.