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Preparing for surgery

You have an appointment at the pre assessment clinic 1 or 2 weeks before your operation. Find out what happens and the tests you might have.

Tests to check you are fit for surgery

You have tests before your operation to check:

  • your fitness for an anaesthetic if you need one 
  • that you'll make a good recovery from surgery 

You might not need all of these tests if you had them when you were diagnosed. Tests include:

  • blood tests to check your general health and how well your kidneys are working 
  • an ECG to check your heart is healthy 
  • breathing tests (called lung function tests) 
  • an echocardiogram (a painless test of your heart using sound waves) 
  • a chest x-ray to check your lungs are healthy 

Pre assessment clinic

Your pre assessment appointment prepares you for your operation. 

You meet members of your treatment team at this appointment and you can sign the consent form to agree to the operation. 

Ask lots of questions. It helps to write down the questions beforehand to take with you. The more you know about what is going to happen, the less frightening it will seem. 

You can ask more questions when you go into hospital so don't worry if you forget to ask some. At the hospital you might meet:

The surgeon 

A member of the surgical team will tell you about:

  • the operation you are going to have 
  • the benefits of having surgery 
  • the possible risks 
  • what to expect afterwards 

The anaesthetist 

The anaesthetist gives you the anaesthetic and looks after you during the operation. They make sure you are fit enough for surgery.

The clinical nurse specialist 

The nurse checks your:

  • general health 
  • weight 
  • blood pressure 
  • pulse 
  • temperature 

The nurse also checks what help and support you have to see what you will need when you go home. They are your point of contact and care for you throughout your treatment. 

The dietitian 

The dietitian gives you help and adivce about managing your diet. They:

  • help you get as well as possible before your operation 
  • explain how the surgery affects your diet 
  • give useful tips on how to increase your nutrients and calories 

They might give you nutritional supplement drinks to have before surgery.

Some people need a feeding tube in their stomach or small bowel. This makes sure you get the nutrition you need before surgery. 

The physiotherapist 

The physiotherapist assesses how well you can move around. They let the doctors know if there is anything that could affect your recovery. 

The physio will also teach you leg and breathing exercises to do after your operation to help with recovery. Learning how to do the exercises beforehand makes it easier afterwards. 

Learning breathing and leg exercises

Breathing exercises help to stop you from getting a chest infection. If you smoke, it helps if you can stop at least a few weeks before your operation.

Leg exercises help to stop clots forming in your legs. You might also have medicines to stop the blood from clotting. You have them as small injections just under the skin. They are heparin, tinzaparin or dalteparin.

You start the injections just before your operation. You might also wear compression stockings.

This 3-minute video shows you how to do the breathing and leg exercises.

Last reviewed: 
02 Sep 2015
  • Venous thromboembolism overview
    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2015 

  • Consensus review of optimal perioperative care in colorectal surgery: Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) Group recommendations 
    K Lassen
    Archives of surgery, 2009 Oct;144(10):961-9 

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