What happens before surgery?

You need to have tests to make sure you are physically well enough to cope with the operation. These are usually done a few days before your operation at a pre-assessment clinic. They include tests on your heart and lungs.

You will see a member of the surgical team and a specialist nurse who will talk to you about the operation. You may see the doctor who gives you the anaesthetic (the anaesthetist) at a clinic or when you’re admitted to hospital. Make sure that you talk through any questions or concerns that you have about the operation.

If you smoke, it’s important to try to give up or cut down before your operation. This will help reduce your risk of problems, such as a chest infection, and help your wound to heal after the operation. Your GP can give you advice on giving up smoking.

If you think you might need help when you go home after your operation, let the nurses know as soon as possible. It means the staff can help you make arrangements in plenty of time.

Some hospitals follow an enhanced recovery programme (ERP). This can help reduce complications following surgery and speed up your recovery. It involves careful planning before your operation to prepare you. You’ll be asked to have a high-protein and high-calorie drink before and after your surgery. After the operation, the nurses encourage you to start moving around as soon as possible, sometimes on the same day. You will be allowed to eat and drink soon after surgery. Not all hospitals use the ERP for liver surgery and it’s not suitable for everyone.

You’ll usually be admitted to hospital the day before your operation or the same morning. The nurses give you special elastic stockings (TED stockings) to wear during and after the operation. They help prevent blood clots forming in your legs.

Back to Surgery explained

Who might I meet?

A team of specialists will plan your surgery. This will include a surgeon who specialises in your type of cancer.

What happens after surgery?

You’ll be monitored closely after your operation. How long you stay in hospital will depend on the operation you have.