What You Should Disclose to Your Neurosurgeon Before Surgery

Even though the neurosurgery that’s been planned for you has been performed countless times before — and the recommendation to have that surgery was the result of a thorough examination and qualified consultation — every patient is different, and those differences can have an effect on how the neurosurgeon approaches the procedure.

And although some of the things that make you unique, such as your weight and age and diagnosed symptoms, have already been recorded and will be taken into consideration, it’s important to share certain kinds of information that neurosurgeons wouldn’t know unless you mentioned it. What follows are some suggestions for the types of things you should discuss.

Medical History (Yours and Your Family’s)

This includes any current or previous medical problems, as well as any surgeries, even if they don’t seem related to the reason for your surgery. You should especially alert your neurosurgeon if you’ve had complications following a surgical procedure, or bad reactions to anesthesia. Your family’s medical history could also provide helpful information about your potential outcome and recovery. Your neurosurgeon is always interested in any personal or family history of cerebral aneurysms.


Whether the medications you’re taking are over-the-counter or prescription, they can affect your pre-surgical tests and the procedure, as well as interact with any new medications you’ll be prescribed as you recover from your surgery. Definitely tell your neurosurgeon if you’re taking a blood thinner or anti-inflammatory medicines because they can cause dangerous bleeding during the surgery. This also includes herbal supplements and vitamins.


Surgery can affect smokers differently than nonsmokers, from how long you’ll require a ventilator to the duration and quality of your recovery. If you no longer smoke but have smoked regularly in the past, you should tell your neurosurgeon. Because you will have to refrain from smoking for a period of time before your procedure, you may need to take steps to prepare for any withdrawal symptoms.


As is the case with smoking, a history of heavy alcohol consumption could bring challenges to your surgery. A history of excessive drinking could affect considerations for anesthesia and cause post-surgical complications and infections because heavy alcohol consumption can compromise the immune system. Options may be available if you have a chemical dependency on alcohol that would make difficult refraining from drinking before your surgery.


Many patients have allergies to medicines related to the procedure or recovery, such as penicillin. This also includes food allergies — some medications contain egg, for example — and substances that cause skin irritations, such as latex.

Any Recent Changes to Your Health

How you felt during your first consultation might not be the same way you’re feeling the day or week before your surgery. Your neurosurgeon will want to know if you’ve started feeling sick or your symptoms have changed. 


It’s pretty likely that you’ll have mentioned whether you’re pregnant, but make sure you inform your neurosurgeon, because this will obviously affect how the surgery is performed — if it’s performed at all.

Language or Accessibility Needs

If you’re more comfortable speaking in a language other than English, or if you have other accessibility needs, you can usually be accommodated at the hospital.

Any Concerns and Questions

Your neurosurgeon is a skilled medical professional — not a mindreader! If you have questions or concerns about any aspect of your procedure, such from preparation through recovery and follow-up, be sure to ask. 

Make an Appointment with Dr. Woodall Today

As an experienced and highly trained expert in procedures related to the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and vascular system, Dr. Woodall provides the latest advances in surgical neuroscience care. Contact our office today.