Blood Work Tests You Can Expect Before Surgery

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If you need surgery, or your healthcare provider thinks you may need surgery, different tests may be ordered to determine the exact nature of the problem as well as your general state of health. These tests range from body scans to blood tests, from the invasive to the barely noticeable.

Every surgery is different, just as every patient is different. So, the tests your surgeon orders may be different from the tests described here, or you may have more tests than the average patient. Pre-surgery testing is very individualized.

For example, plastic surgeons may test for nicotine prior to surgery. This is because smoking and other types of nicotine use are known to increase scarring and delay wound healing. If you test positive for nicotine prior to plastic surgery, the surgeon may not perform the procedure.

Female scientist about to view a human sample under a microscope
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Blood Tests Before Surgery

Blood tests are frequently drawn before surgery. This is done for a number of reasons—to examine your general state of health, to determine if any signs of infection are present, or to determine how a specific organ is functioning.

The blood tests listed here are among the most common and may be performed after your surgery is complete in addition to any pre-surgery screening that is done.

Having blood drawn does not mean there is a problem; it is often done to spot an issue before it becomes serious. Many blood tests will be repeated after surgery to determine if any changes have happened to your health status.

Drawing Blood Before Surgery

Unless you have a special type of IV inserted prior to surgery, you can expect a member of the hospital staff to draw blood from your vein using a small needle.

This process is usually simple, and you should notice little more than a quick pinch as the needle is inserted. The person drawing blood may use a tourniquet in order to find your veins more easily. It's removed once the needle is inserted.

If you have a sensitivity to latex or adhesives, you may want to request that no bandage or tape be used on the site, as the bleeding usually stops quickly.

If this is the case, however, be sure that your healthcare provider is aware of this issue, as you may need a bandage on your surgical site after your procedure.

Common Pre-Surgery Blood Tests

The specific tests your healthcare provider orders depends on multiple factors, but some common ones include:

Pre-Surgery Scans

Your surgery may also require body scans or imaging. Imaging may include:

These studies can often help your surgeon determine the exact nature or extent of the problem that makes surgery necessary.

For example, if you badly injure your knee, an X-ray may be done to look at the bones of the knee area. A CT or MRI may be used to determine if the tissues that help make up the knee are also injured or inflamed.

These tests can be performed on a specific area of the body, or they can be done on a region of the body. For example, a CT can look at a specific organ, or the healthcare provider may want to see images of the entire abdomen.

Testing of this nature is not painful and requires only that you are still while the machine is making the images.

The MRI works using a large magnet, so you'll be required to remove any jewelry or metal you may be wearing, such as rings, earrings, and piercings.

You'll also need to tell the MRI technicians if you have any metal implants such as a hip replacement or pins from orthopedic surgery. Some implants may prevent an MRI from taking place.

Pre-Surgery Heart Testing

In some cases, additional tests may be ordered to determine the function of your heart. This is especially true if you are having heart surgery, but these tests are often ordered to evaluate your ability to tolerate surgery and anesthesia.

In addition to monitoring the ability of the heart to tolerate stresses such as exercise and the normal nerve/electrical conduction of the muscle, the arteries that supply the heart with blood may also be examined. Tests may include:

The Expense of Pre-Surgery Tests

Before you undergo a battery of tests, you may want to ask if they're covered by your insurance, as they can be expensive.

If you are paying for surgery out of your own pocket, you should know if the price you were quoted for the procedure includes the testing that is done before surgery or if the tests are an additional fee. Choosing another hospital is an option.

The tests mentioned in this article range from less than $100 to several thousand dollars each, which does not include repeating the tests before or after surgery, if necessary. Simply put, tests can significantly impact the cost of surgery and should only be done when necessary. 

A Word From Verywell

You can expect bloodwork to be drawn prior to the vast majority of surgical procedures. This is done to protect you and to make sure that you are healthy enough to have surgery without major complications. 

It also prevents unnecessary risk, such as having anesthesia while pregnant because you weren't aware of the pregnancy

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FN
Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FNP-C, is a board-certified family nurse practitioner. She has experience in primary care and hospital medicine.