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Tests Performed Before Surgery

Many surgeons order routine laboratory tests before admission to the hospital, or even before certain outpatient procedures, to identify potential problems that might complicate surgery if not detected and treated early. Some of the most common tests performed before surgery (and possible reasons or symptoms for which they are performed) are included in the following list:

  • Chest X-rays. A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film; may be used to help diagnose causes of shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, fever of unknown origin, and other abnormal heart, respiratory, and lung sounds.

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). A test that records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias), detects heart muscle damage, and helps determine (along with other tests) the cause of chest pain, heart palpitations, and heart murmurs.

  • Urinalysis. This test may be used to diagnose kidney and bladder infections, and diabetes. Specific types of urinalysis can also detect drugs present in the body.

  • White blood count. This test may be used to diagnose fever of unknown origin, infection, and use of drugs known to affect white blood counts.

The following tests, used on blood and urine specimens, measure certain substances and electrolytes in the body which should be normalized as much as possible before surgery:

  • Glucose

  • Potassium (Potassium, sodium, and other electrolytes are important in regulating heart rhythms and other body functions.)

  • Sodium

  • Complete blood count (CBC). A test that measures the amount of hemoglobin, hematocrit, platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells. 

If you have questions or concerns about any of the tests ordered by your doctor, and the importance of having them, be sure to address them before having surgery.

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 10/29/2014
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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