Chest X-Ray before surgery

Before surgery of any kind, patients are often requested to undergo a chest x-ray.
The idea is that this may lead to identifying problematic conditions that would prohibit surgery, lead it to be postponed or necessitate certain precautions.
In reality, it is an overused procedure. If there are not specific reasons tied to the patient’s medical history or the presence of certain symptoms identified during a medical examination, performing a routine chest x-ray before surgery is not recommended.
A careful examination prior to surgery and understanding of the patient’s medical history is generally all that is needed.

Advice from Altroconsumo

- Before undergoing any surgery, talk to your doctor until you have fully understood the reasons behind the surgery, possible risks and expected benefits. Always evaluate with your doctor whether there are alternative treatments or wait a certain period, keeping the problem under control, to evaluate if surgery is truly necessary.
- Once the surgery has been confirmed, speak to your surgeon and anaesthesiologist and accurately describe your health conditions and medical history, namely current illnesses and any previous surgeries. Remember to accurately list all the medications, supplements and herbal products that you are taking, asking if you need to suspend their intake before surgery (this is the case, for example, with blood thinners, including baby aspirin, and generally all medications that thin the blood, including some painkillers).
- Organize for your hospitalisation in advance, preparing the materials needed for your stay, and asking someone to accompany you there and pick you up.

Questions to your doctor

If the doctor prescribes a test, medication or surgery, remember that “Doing more does not mean doing better” and ask:

  • Do I really need this exam/treatment?
  • What are the risks?
  • Are there simpler and safer alternatives?
  • What happens if I don’t take this exam/treatment?

Download the document and bring it to your doctor to discuss

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In collaboration with

SIRM - Italian Society of Medical Radiology

The information available in this tool is a clue to talk to your doctor or trusted professional. It is not a substitute for information and advice that you can get by contacting them directly.

To find out more and to know the sources used, consult the Altroconsumo website and the Choosing Wisely Italy website