This leaflet has been produced to provide information for you prior to your procedure but it is not intended to replace discussion between you and the medical/nursing team looking after you. If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to discuss them with the healthcare team.

Pre-procedure pregnancy testing – why is it important?

Risks to you:

Whilst undergoing a general anaesthetic is normally very safe, there is evidence which suggests that operating on patients with female sexual organs with an unrecognised pregnancy increases the anaesthetic risks to the patient.

Risks to the foetus:

During pregnancy the foetus is very vulnerable to the effects of some anaesthetic medicines, X-rays and surgeries. This is particularly the case at the very beginning of a pregnancy, when it is possible you may not realise you are pregnant. Operations during pregnancy can increase the risk of complications with the pregnancy, including premature labour and miscarriage.

Who requires a pre-procedure pregnancy test?

Pregnancy testing before surgery is recommended for all patients with female sexual organs aged 12-55 years of age inclusively. Testing is entirely unrelated to any individual’s personal circumstances or lifestyle.

What is needed?

Pregnancy testing is performed using a sample of urine provided on the day of surgery. The test takes only a matter of minutes to provide a result, and will not delay the planned surgery. We will, of course, inform you of the result.

I think I may be pregnant; what should I do?

It is very important that you let one of the nurses or doctors know before your operation. This information will be treated in confidence. You will be offered a urinary pregnancy test, and if this is positive, a confirmatory blood test may be sent to the laboratory. Whilst very reliable, in very early pregnancy, there is a small possibility you may still be pregnant even with a negative urine pregnancy test. In this situation, a doctor will talk with you about the risks and benefits of proceeding with the planned operation.

I am sure I am not pregnant; do I still require the test?

It is important to know that we would never test without your consent. However, we request pregnancy testing on everyone, because this way we are confident that we are keeping you as safe as possible whilst in hospital. If you are unhappy to provide a sample for pregnancy testing, it might be necessary to delay routine surgery, though would not affect urgent or emergency surgery. If surgery proceeds, we would request you to sign a declaration

Ref: 04/20/116
Review: 12/23