Mastectomy Preoperative Procedures

A few days before surgery, the patient's overall health is assessed. Preoperative tests depend on the patient's age and health and generally include a blood test, a chest x-ray, and possibly an electrocardiogram (EKG).

Medications that "thin" the blood, including aspirin, should be discontinued several days prior to a scheduled operation to avoid abnormal bleeding during the procedure. Patients must refrain from eating or drinking at least 8 hours prior to surgery to reduce the risk of vomiting during the procedure. This may include taking oral medications and this should be discussed with the physician.

On admission to the hospital, the patient must sign an informed consent form to make sure the surgeon has explained what a mastectomy is and the risks associated with the surgery.

Next, the anesthesiologist (physician who administers the anesthesia) performs a brief physical assessment and takes a medical history. The anesthesiologist is made aware of current medications, any history of allergies, and previous adverse reactions to anesthesia to assess conditions that may determine the choice of anesthesia and any precautions that must be taken.

An intravenous line (IV) is started to administer fluids and medication during the procedure. The patient is taken to the preoperative holding area and must stay in bed from this point on, except to use the bathroom. Sedation is sometimes given in the preoperative holding area, but the anesthesia is administered in the operating room.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 15 Aug 1999

Last Modified: 22 Dec 2011