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Getting yourself healthy before surgery

Don't wait to be asked! Keep your health care providers informed

You know more about your symptoms and your health history than anyone else. Your doctors and nurses will depend on you for that information.

Tell your doctor(s):

  • About any reactions or allergies you have had to medicines, foods (such as shellfish), tapes, iodine, or latex.
  • If you have been drinking a lot of alcohol, more than 1 or 2 drinks a day.
  • If you have ever had problems with surgery or anesthesia in the past.
  • If you have a history of blood clots or bleeding problems.
  • About any recent dental problems, such as infections or dental surgery.

If you smoke, you need to stop. Ask your doctor or nurse for help. Smoking will slow down wound and bone healing. You should stop now so you can have a safer and more complete recovery from your surgery.

Always let your doctor or nurse know about any cold, flu, fever, herpes breakout, or other illness you may have before your surgery.

Have any needed or planned dental work done before the hip replacement surgery. After your replacement:

  • Your surgeon may not allow you to have any dental work done for 3 months after surgery.
  • Make sure your dentist and other health care providers know that you had surgery.

Preoperative exam

Before your surgery, you will need to have a medical history and physical exam done.

  • This may be done by your orthopedic surgeon, or you may be asked to see your primary care doctor.
  • Sometimes you may be asked to have a visit with a specialist who takes care of problems such as diabetes, lung disease, or heart disease.
  • Try to have this checkup at least 2 or 3 weeks before your surgery. That way, your doctors will have a chance to "tune-up" any of your medical problems.

Some hospitals will also have you visit with a nurse at the hospital before surgery.

  • You will be asked many questions about your medical history.
  • You may also have a chest x-ray, some lab tests, or an EKG during this visit.

Find out how you should manage your medicines

Bring a list of medicines you are taking with you every time you see a doctor or nurse.

  • This includes medicines you bought without a prescription and medicines you do not take every day.
  • Write down the dose and how often you take your medicines every day.
  • Tell your health care providers about any vitamins, supplements, minerals, or natural medicines you are taking, as well as any alternative treatments you have had.

One week before surgery you may be asked to stop taking drugs that make it harder for your blood to clot. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), warfarin, rivaroxaban, and other blood-thinning drugs. Please make sure that the doctors that prescribed you with the medicine is OK for you to stop them before surgery. Sometimes, they may need you to take other medicine to substitute them.

Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of your surgery.

Manage your medical problems

If you have diabetes, heart disease, or other medical problems, your surgeon will ask you to see the doctor who treats you for these conditions. You can reduce your risk of problems during and after surgery by having your diabetes and other medical problems under control before surgery. Let all of your providers know about your upcoming surgery. They may suggest you change your medicine before you have surgery.

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Review Date: 12/31/2018

Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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