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Past Meets Present in Surgery: July 4, 2014

We all have a history. Before you undergo surgery, plan on dredging up your past with the surgeon. Providing an accurate record of your life experiences can have a big impact on your post-op future.

“I think the most important things are past medical history. Do you have rheumatoid arthritis? Diabetes? Heart disease? All that stuff we need to know up front,” says Dr. David Eichten, an orthopedic surgeon on medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

As well as a list of meds. It’s important to know what you’re on before getting any new prescriptions.

“We have to put people on a lot of medications after a hip or a knee replacement. Blood thinners, so they don’t get a blood clot, pain medication.  And we need to know what other medications that can react with those,” says Dr. Eichten.

It’s also your chance to bring up past traumas. Whether it’s an injury decades ago or surgery years ago- these could play into your diagnosis and treatment. Even a minor incident may have set the stage for your surgical outcome.

“We call it post-traumatic arthritis. If you’ve had a trauma fifteen years ago, that cartilage takes a little bit longer to present itself as far as the arthritis. Other patients have had a previous surgery where the meniscus was removed and certain things predispose you to having arthritis,” says Dr. Eichten.

Arthritis is the top cause of joint replacement - it can also be brought on by repetitive use. So, your past life as an athlete, laborer, or hobbyist could have left a lasting impression.