Many surgeons request lab tests before procedures when you see them for your pre-operation (pre-op) check-up within the month leading up to your surgery. This visit includes a thorough physical examination and a review of your medical history and lifestyle habits. If your primary care physician performs your pre-op evaluation, they are the one prescribing these tests although your surgeon will also look at your results afterward. You may also meet with your anesthesiologist the week before the procedure.
You usually take these lab tests when you need to be admitted to the hospital, but your doctor can order them for certain outpatient surgeries too. These tests help notice potential problems that may increase the risk of complications during and after surgery. You may have to repeat certain tests after the procedure if your physician wants to monitor something specific.
Why Your Doctor Recommends Pre-Surgery Lab Tests
Pre-op lab tests help evaluate your overall health, look for any signs of infection, and can assess how a specific organ is working. Depending on your medical history and past or current conditions, these tests can provide a lot of information to your surgeon. This includes any bleeding issue that can directly affect how you tolerate the procedure and your healing process. You may also need to get certain conditions such as diabetes under control before having surgery.
Tests usually don’t prevent you from going through with the procedure, but your surgeon may have to monitor you more closely during it and while you recover.
Common Pre-Op Lab Tests
Pre-surgery testing depends on a variety of factors, but doctors usually order the following:
- Complete Blood Count (CBC) Panel: Doctors request this for all scheduled and non-emergency surgeries. This test checks white blood cells that fight infections, hemoglobin and hematocrit for your red blood and your healing process, and your platelets that play a big role in clotting.
- Complete Metabolic Panel (CMP): Also known as a “chemistry panel,” it evaluates your electrolyte levels, like potassium and sodium.
- Coagulation Labs: This test assesses your body’s ability to stop bleeding. If you need to change or pause blood-thinning medication for your surgery, your doctor will provide instructions.
- Hemoglobin A1C: It measures glucose levels over the past few weeks and determines if an individual’s diabetes is under control.
- Urinalysis: This is another option to look at potential infections in your body.
- Liver panel: This test looks at your body’s proteins and enzymes that support adequate function for organs and tissues.
Other Tests Your Surgeon May Request
You may need to have other pre-op tests besides lab work. Factors such as your age, health, and type of surgery help your doctor determine what other tests to order. Digital imaging can help your surgeon have a more detailed view of the area they will treat.
Common medical imaging tests include:
- CT Scans
Heart testing helps assess your cardiovascular function and your provider may want to see your results to see how you can tolerate the procedure and anesthesia. Heart testing can involve an Electrocardiogram (EKG), an echocardiogram, or an angiogram.
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