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Preparing for surgery

You have tests before your operation to check:

  • your fitness for an anaesthetic
  • that you are able to 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

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

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. If you're a smoker, they will advise you to stop smoking before your operation.

The nurses

The pre assessment nurse checks your:

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

They also check what help and support you have to see what you will need when you go home.

You might also see your cancer specialist nurse. They are your point of contact and care for you throughout your treatment.

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 physios may teach you leg and breathing exercises to do after your operation to help with recovery. Or you may get a leaflet describing what to do. 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 blood clots forming in your legs. You might also have medicines to stop the blood from clotting. You have them as small injections under the skin.

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

Your nurse and physiotherapist will get you up out of bed quite quickly after your surgery. This is to help prevent chest infections and blood clots forming.

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

The evening before

Your nurse might give you a carbohydrate rich drink to have the evening before the operation. You might also have it on the morning of surgery. The drink gives you energy and can speed up your recovery.

If you go into hospital the evening before your operation, your nurse will check your blood pressure, pulse and breathing rate.

Last reviewed: 
10 Nov 2020
Next review due: 
10 Nov 2023
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