Choosing Wisely

5 QUESTIONS to Ask About Medical Tests Before You Have Surgery


What are medical tests before surgery? Sometimes, before surgery, you will get medical tests, also known as pre-operative or “pre-op” tests. These might include a chest X-ray, blood and urine samples, or heart and lung tests.


Do I really need these tests? They can be helpful if you are having serious surgery, especially if you have health problems. But if your surgery is minor or low-risk, you probably don’t need them. Ask your doctor or surgeon.


What are the risks? Ask about any false alarms the tests might cause or if they could lead to more tests, procedures, or a surgery delay.


Is this test different than the one I had recently? Ask your doctor to check your test records from the last six months. Usually you don’t need to repeat a recent test if your condition hasn’t changed.


How much does it cost? Ask if the tests are part of your surgery expenses and what your insurance will cover.

Use these 5 questions to talk to your doctor about which pre-op tests you need — and which you don’t need.

Some pre-op tests provide little benefit. And in some cases, they may even cause harm.

Talk to your doctor to make sure you end up with the right pre-op tests — not too many and not too few.