Tests before surgery

Before you have surgery you will have a preoperative ('pre‑op') assessment. You will usually have this at a preoperative assessment clinic, either at the hospital or in your community. At this appointment you will be asked questions about your health and about any medicines you are taking. You may then be offered some tests. These are called 'preoperative tests'.

Why are preoperative tests done?

Preoperative tests give your nurse or doctor more information about:

  • whether you have any medical problems that might need to be treated before surgery

  • whether you might need special care during or after surgery

  • the risk of anything going wrong, so that they can talk to you about these risks.

The tests you will need depend mainly on:

  • your health and

  • the type of anaesthetic and surgery you're having.

What if I have already had some tests?

If you have had tests at your GP surgery the results need to be included in the letter from your GP when you are referred to see a surgeon. Check this with your GP or practice nurse.

Who will be involved in your care

Different professionals may be involved in your preoperative assessment. You are likely to see a nurse and, if you need to, an anaesthetist or a doctor who specialises in care for people having surgery. Your GP will also be involved.

Making decisions about your tests

Your nurse or doctor should talk with you about preoperative tests. They should explain any tests you have been offered, why they are needed and what they involve, so that you can decide together what is best for you. If you choose to, you can involve your family or carer in making decisions.

We have suggested a list of questions to help you talk with your nurse or doctor.

There is more information in the your care section of the NICE website about information, support and giving your consent. You may also like to read NICE's information for the public on patient experience in adult NHS services. This sets out what adults should be able to expect when they use the NHS.

  • Information Standard