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Preparing for surgery

Find out about what happens before surgery, the people you’ll meet and the exercises you need to do.

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 that 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 that your lungs are healthy

Pre assessment clinic

About 2 weeks before your surgery you have an appointment at the hospital 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 all your 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

They will let you know if you need to stop taking certain medications before your operation.

Tell them if you usually take medicines to thin your blood such as aspirin, clopidogrel or warfarin, or you are diabetic.

The anaesthetist

The anaesthetist gives you the anaesthetic and looks after you during the operation. They make sure you’re fit enough for the 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 nurse or a physiotherapist will talk to you about the arm exercises you need to do after your operation to help with your recovery.

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.

Information and help

Dangoor sponsorship

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.