Definition and Overview

A pre-surgery follow-up is a visit to the surgeon who will perform a particular surgical procedure. This gives the patient an opportunity to fully discuss the surgery in detail before it is carried out. This is typically the first requirement once the patient has been confirmed to undergo surgery and is considered a crucial part of the pre-surgery preparation. The goal of this meeting is to inform the patient about what to expect from the surgery, how it is going to be performed, and the risks and possible complications of the procedure. In addition, it is also used to ensure that the patient is fit to undergo the planned surgery.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

All patients who need surgery are required to visit the surgeon for a pre-surgery follow-up. Some of the common types of surgeries include:

  • Bariatric surgery
  • Breast surgery
  • Colon and rectal surgery, such as the surgical treatment of colon cancer, hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease, polyps, and rectal cancer
  • Endocrine surgery, such as thyroid surgery
  • Gynecological surgery
  • Head and neck surgery
  • Hand surgery
  • Neurosurgery, such as the surgical excision of a brain tumor and surgery for cerebral aneurysms, among others
  • Orthopedic surgery, such as open-knee surgery, shoulder surgery, or spinal surgery
  • Ophthalmological surgery
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Plastic and reconstructive surgery
  • Outpatient surgery – These are surgical procedures that do not require patients to stay in the hospital overnight. Some examples include arthroscopy, biopsies, cataract surgery, circumcision, resection surgeries, and tonsillectomy, among others.

The procedure applies to all patients regardless of the type of surgery that will be performed, such as:

  • Laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery – This goes by many other names, such as keyhole surgery or endoscopic surgery. This is a modern surgical technique performed using only small cuts or incisions, through which only tubes can pass. These tubes are attached to tools, surgical instruments, and a scope, which allows the surgeon to view the surgical area without the need for an open surgery. The use of laparoscopic techniques in surgery has significantly lessened the risks involved in various surgical procedures and has decreased the level of bleeding, pain, and discomfort that patients experience. It has also reduced both recovery and downtime.

  • Robotic surgery – This is also a new surgical technique wherein the actual procedure is performed by a robotic arm, which is controlled by the surgeon via a computer. Also known as computer-assisted surgery, this technique is known to increase the accuracy and precision with which surgeries are performed.

The different surgical techniques that may be used for the procedure will also be explained in detail to the patient during the pre-surgery follow-up, so that the patient can be given the choice to choose which type of surgery he prefers.

Thus, regardless of the reason for and method of the surgery, a pre-surgery follow-up appointment is necessary.

How the Procedure Works?

During this visit, all important details regarding the surgery will be discussed. These include:

  • The benefits of the surgery
  • The risks and possible complications
  • The methods or surgical techniques to be used
  • Date and time of the procedure
  • Type of anesthesia to be used and who will administer it
  • Pre-surgery instructions, such as how long to refrain from eating and drinking fluids before the surgery
  • Pre-surgery exercises that may be required
  • Recovery period following the surgery

Certain tests may also be conducted during the pre-surgery follow-up to ensure that the patient is fit to undergo the procedures. Common tests include:

  • Blood tests
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG or electrocardiogram

Before the end of the follow-up visit, the patient will be encouraged to ask all questions he may have about the surgery. Patients are also advised to provide all important information about their health, such as:

  • Any allergies
  • Any medications they are taking
  • If they have received anesthesia in the past
  • If the patient or any of his family member has had a negative reaction to anesthesia in the past

At the end of the appointment, the patient may be asked to fill up a consent form that gives the surgeon a legal permission to perform the surgery as discussed.

Possible Risks and Complications

A pre-surgery follow-up can help protect a patient from the risks and possible complications of any surgical procedure. All surgeries come with certain risks, the most common of which are:

  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Blood loss
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Allergic reactions to anesthesia
  • Confusion
  • Delirium
  • Infection

In all cases, doctors only resort to surgery when there is enough reason to. Its potential benefits are first weighed against its potential risks. Precautions to help prevent any of these risks and complications are also explained to the patient during the pre-surgery follow-up.

  • American College of Surgeons
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