Clinical update

Pre-operative tests

Updated NICE guidance aims to reduce unnecessary pre-operative testing

Essential facts

The NHS in England performed 10.6 million operations in 2012/13, compared with 6.61 million a decade before – a rise of 60%, says Health and Social Care Information Centre data.

Over the same period, pre-operative assessment has changed radically, with most people seen well in advance of their surgery in a pre-operative assessment unit. While the number of routine tests for young, healthy people having minor surgery has reduced significantly, there remains a concern that some unnecessary tests continue to be requested, says the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

In April, NICE updated its 2003 guidance on routine pre-operative tests for those aged 16 and above. The aim is to reduce unnecessary testing by advising which tests to offer people before minor, intermediate and major or complex surgery. It takes into account specific comorbidities including cardiovascular, renal and respiratory conditions, diabetes


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