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Heading to the Operating Room? Here’s Why You Should Get a Physical First

It’s normal to feel anxious and a bit worried when you need surgery. Getting yourself mentally and physically ready before your procedure may help calm your nerves.

Not everyone needs a preoperative (preop) physical exam, but it’s never a bad idea to see your primary care provider prior to surgery for a checkup when you have a planned procedure. 

At Obstetricians & Gynecologists, PC, in Hastings and Grand Island, Nebraska, our team of primary care providers perform preoperative physical exams to make sure you’re in good overall health for the procedure so you get the best results. We also provide guidance on how to prepare for surgery and what to expect after.

Here’s why you should get a physical before heading to the operating room.

Purpose of the preop physical

The preoperative physical isn’t the exam that decides whether you can have surgery. Surgeons request this physical so they fully understand your health history and can develop a personalized surgical plan that reduces the risk of complications. 

You may not need a physical before a minor surgical procedure, like removal of an unusual skin growth. But you should get a physical if you’re heading to the operating room for a procedure that requires anesthesia. 

Anesthesia affects heart and lung function. Getting a physical before your surgical procedure determines whether you have factors that may increase risk of heart and lung complications during surgery. Your anesthesiologist adjusts the type and dose of medication used to reduce these risks. 

What to expect with a preop physical

A physical before surgery is a lot like any other physical. We review your medical and surgical history, ask about medication and supplement use, and perform an exam.

We may order standard tests like a complete blood count (CBC) to check for anemia and infections and a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) to evaluate organ function. 

We also spend time talking to you about your surgery and what you can do now to get your body ready, such as eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and creating a healthy sleep schedule. 

Additionally, we talk about how to prepare your home for your recovery and the type of assistance you may need from family and friends following your procedure. 

Additional tests and evaluations

Depending on your medical history, age, and type of surgery needed, we may request that you see other specialists or have additional tests before heading to the operating room. 

Testing may include:

We may also refer you to other medical specialists who can provide your surgeon with more detailed information about any health issue that your preoperative physical exam uncovers. 

You should schedule your physical exam at least one month before your surgery so we have enough time to get all of the tests done and address any underlying issues.

We may also schedule a follow-up visit after your surgery to monitor your healing and provide additional support. 

If you’re heading to the operating room, you need a physical to make sure you get the best results from your procedure. We can provide the exam and the guidance you need. Call us today at the office most convenient to you, or use our online appointment request form to schedule an exam.

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