Preparing for Neurosurgery

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Our expert neurosurgery team is committed to providing the finest and most comprehensive patient care. For help finding a neurosurgeon, call 310-825-5111.

How to prepare for brain surgery

From pre-operative checklists to consent forms and appointments, brain surgery preparation can feel overwhelming. The expert staff at UCLA Health is here to guide you through every step of the different types of neuro surgeries. Start with the resources on this page and contact us with any questions.  

Preparing for neurosurgery

At UCLA Health, we understand that preparing for brain surgery can be intimidating. It’s likely you have a lot of questions for your neurosurgeon. That’s why we’ve put together this guide with helpful links and information on what you need to know. 

Admission Medication History
Pre-Operative Checklist
Medical History
Consent for Surgery
Blood Transfusion Guide
Blood Transfusion Consent

Authorization for Release of (PHI) Protected Health Information
Care Team Members
Post Discharge Facilities
Infection Prevention
Your Road to Recovery

Benefits of Early Mobility
Nausea Tip Sheet
Advance Directive
Patient Guide
Lodging & Nearby Services

Preparing for Neurosurgery?

How do I prepare for Neurosurgery? (Spanish)

How to prepare for brain surgery

How do I prepare for neurosurgery?

The prospect of having neurosurgery can be frightening. We encourage you to ask your neurosurgeon questions. Information can lessen anxiety by reducing fear of the "unknown." In addition, a better understanding of your problem can help you make more informed and therefore, better decisions. We will help you regain a sense of control and cope with a situation that may seem to be moving too fast.

Your neurosurgeon may ask you to see your internist (or a specialist such as a cardiologist) to get "medically cleared" for surgery. The intent is to reduce the risk of anesthesia by identifying and optimally treating medical conditions. For patients with a history of heart problems or who may be at increased risk of a heart attack, this may involve specific tests to assess the blood flow to the heart.

To reduce the risk of bleeding during or immediately following neurosurgery, it is important to tell your neurosurgeon if you are taking any medications that thin the blood (anticoagulants) or if you have a natural tendency for bleeding (hemophilia). Always tell your neurosurgeon if you take aspirin (even baby aspirin) because in most cases aspirin should be stopped at least 7 days prior to surgery. Other medications, including herbs, vitamins, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as Motrin, may also have to be stopped prior to surgery.

Although the chances of a serious complication are usually low with most neurosurgeries, surgery of any type carries risks. Consider having a discussion with family members about your wishes in the event something unexpected occurs and you are not able to make decisions for yourself. Ideally, all patients having surgery of any kind should have a Living Will or Advance Directive completed prior to undergoing the surgical procedure. Your primary care doctor may be a good resource for advice.

Preparing for surgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center

How are university hospitals different from community hospitals.

  • Experience
    • A university hospital, such as Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, offers the opportunity to be treated by highly trained specialists who can offer the latest and best treatments for brain tumors. Several studies have demonstrated that patient outcome is better if a surgeon performs a high volume of a particular operation each year.
    • UCLA neurosurgeons perform large number of operations each week. In addition, due to the high volume of patients treated at UCLA, our nurses are highly trained in the care of neurosurgery patients.
  • The resident team
    • The resident team helps your neurosurgeon by making "rounds" twice a day-early in the morning and then later in the afternoon. They review your vital signs, examine you, and help coordinate your care (order tests, consult other specialists, prepare for discharge, etc.) under the direction of your neurosurgeon. Your neurosurgeon is in charge of your care and directs that care.
    • The resident team is led by the chief resident, who has nearly completed training (seven years after completing Medical School). The other members of the team are the senior resident (fourth or fifth year in training), three junior residents (second year in training) plus two interns (first-year doctors).
    • There may also be a medical student accompanying the team. Medical students only observe and do not make any decisions regarding your care. At UCLA, a neurosurgery resident is stationed at the hospital 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help with your care.
  • Research
    • You will not be subjected to any research or investigation without your direct consent. In other words, no one will "experiment" on you. For many patients, however, one of the reasons they are at a university hospital is to take advantage of the latest treatments and clinical trials being offered as part of research protocols.
    • All research conducted at UCLA is highly scrutinized to adhere with the highest ethical and safety standards and must be approved by the UCLAH office of the Human Research Protection Program (OHRPP)