Preparing for Tests and Procedures

Your Care Explained > Care Stages : Preparing for Tests and Procedures

Many tests and some procedures can be completed during a routine office visit, while others may require days of advance preparation.

When your doctor prescribes a test or schedules you for a procedure, be sure to take note of what you need to do in advance. Whether it’s something as simple as skipping breakfast the morning of a cholesterol test or as challenging as quitting smoking, it helps to remember that you’re making these preparations to ensure that your test results will be as accurate as possible or that your procedure will be completed without complications.

Noninvasive Tests

These tests don’t involve going inside the body and pose little or no risk to you. You won’t be required to sign a consent form or prepare in advance. They include:

Minimally Invasive Tests and Procedures

These tests and procedures involve piercing the skin and, in some cases, a vein or artery, but not a surgical incision. Some that entail introducing catheters, contrast agents or instruments into blood vessels may require advance preparation, including an interview and physical examination. Several of these procedures may require anesthesia and overnight fasting. Most pose a minimal risk and require informed consent. They include:

Open Surgical Procedures

The following procedures are performed in a surgical suite under general anesthesia or sedation and local anesthesia. They carry a greater risk of complications and require advance preparation and informed consent. They include:

Date Last Modified: January 21, 2011

Send Feedback To: BWH Women’s Health at

75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115 617.732.5500
harvard medical school partners healthcare © BWH 2011