Questions to Ask Your Surgeon Prior to Undergoing Surgery


Surgery is sometimes a viable treatment option for certain chronic pain conditions when other forms of treatment fail to reduce pain levels. The goal of a surgical procedure may be to reduce pain, improve mobility, or correct a deformity.

Feeling apprehensive or nervous about an upcoming surgery is normal. Educating yourself about the procedure, the surgeon’s expertise, the recovery process, potential postsurgical complications, and out-of-pocket costs helps eliminate the fear of the unknown.

Examples of questions you may want to ask your surgeon before undergoing a surgical procedure include the following:

Questions regarding the surgery

Examples of questions about the surgery include the following:

  • Is the surgery necessary?
  • What is the name of the procedure?
  • Where will the surgery take place?
  • Is the surgery inpatient or outpatient?
  • How long is the surgery?
  • What are the benefits and risks of the surgery?
  • Exactly what will take place during the surgery?
  • Who will assist during the procedure?

Questions regarding the surgeon’s background and experience

When facing a surgical procedure, trust in the medical team is essential. Researching the surgeon’s background (e.g., board certification(s), surgical experience, success rate, etc.) helps in the decision-making process.

  • How many times has the surgeon performed this specific surgery?
  • For those in the United States, is the surgeon board-certified?
  • For those in Canada, is the surgeon certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons?
  • What is the surgeon's success rate?
  • Who would the surgeon recommend for a second opinion?

Questions regarding recovery

It’s helpful to know what to expect during the recovery process. Examples of questions about postsurgical care include the following:

  • If the surgery is inpatient, how long is the typical hospital stay?
  • What type of pain (e.g., movement pain, throat pain, muscle pain, etc.) is common following the surgery?
  • How long is the typical recovery period?
  • Will at-home assistance be required?
  • How will postsurgical pain be managed?
  • When is it safe to bathe?
  • Is physical therapy recommended?
  • Is special equipment needed for recovery?
  • Are there any steps that can be taken to help promote a speedy and successful recovery?

Questions regarding potential complications

Complications are possible following any type of surgery. It is important to know when to contact a health care provider after returning home. Examples of questions concerning potential complications include the following:

  • What are the chances of complications?
  • What are common side effects of the surgery?
  • What symptoms require immediate medical assistance?
  • What are symptoms of an infection?

Questions regarding costs

Out-of-pocket surgery costs are a common concern. Questions concerning surgery costs may need to be addressed with your medical insurance company or the staff at the hospital or surgical clinic where the surgery will take place. Examples of questions regarding costs of a surgical procedure include the following:

  • How much will out-of-pocket costs be?
  • If needed, is there a payment plan option?
  • Are there any additional costs beyond surgery costs?
  • Is the cost variable?
  • Is pre-approval from insurance required for this surgery?

Additional source: Verywell Health

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