Medical Moment: What to ask your doctor before surgery

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 5:33 PM EDT
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(WNDU) - 15,000,000 people have some type of surgery every year in the U.S.

For those who are deciding or have already decided to go under the knife, there are some questions you should ask before heading into the OR.

From hip and knee replacements, to back and heart surgeries, millions of procedures are performed every year. But what should you ask your doctor before going under the knife? First, find out if the surgery is really necessary.

“If it gets to the point where they’re miserable, can’t sleep at night, then we mutually make the decision to proceed with the surgery,” said Greg Gasbarro, MD, an orthopedic shoulder surgeon at Mercy Medical Center.

Doctors estimate that 11% of medical procedures are unnecessary. Ask why the procedure is needed. Are there any other treatments? Is surgery typically recommended for your condition, and what would happen if you don’t have the surgery?

Next, find out what to expect after surgery. Ask how many people out of 100 with your condition who get this surgery typically feel better afterward, what’s the likelihood that you will fully recover, and what the cost would be. Then get a sense of your surgeon’s skills by asking them how many of these procedures they performed. Finally...

“If there’s ever a time where you feel like yes, something’s just not right here, get that second opinion, find somebody who may be a better fit for you,” said Parag Sanghvi, MD, an associate professor at MSPH.

Especially if your current doctor is not proposing any alternatives.

If you have already had your surgery, doctors say one of the biggest mistakes is doing too much too soon. So, be sure to follow instructions for the best long-term recovery.