Bariatric and Spinal Cord Stimulator Pre-surgical Testing

Bariatric weight loss surgery can be an excellent way to achieve rapid weight loss, but it definitely qualifies as one of the more extreme interventions. Doctors can perform different procedures in order to aid patients in losing weight that could contribute to other health issues. The end goal is usually to restrict the amount of food that the stomach can hold or force the body to inefficiently absorb the nutrients. While these methods can be highly effective, it is important to make sure that patients are adequately prepared for the surgery beforehand. As a result, many doctors will order a pre-surgical psychological evaluation to ensure that you understand the procedure and have a greater understanding of what contributes to weight loss and gain. A pre-surgical evaluation shouldn’t feel like a scary experience. Keep in mind that it is designed to give you the best possible outcome from your bariatric weight loss surgery. Knowing what to expect from your assessment can make the procedure feel less intimidating.

What is a Pre-Surgical Evaluation?

A pre-surgical evaluation is a means of ensuring that you are set up for future success with your bariatric weight loss surgery. It assesses different aspects of general weight loss and the surgery itself including:
  • Behavior
  • Emotions
  • Development
  • Current life circumstances
  • Motivation for the surgery
  • Expectation for the surgery
To begin, most psychologists will start with your previous and current behaviors regarding your weight loss. You may be interviewed extensively about your previous weight loss attempts, eating habits and diets, and your exercise routine. These indicators can demonstrate whether you have adopted a healthy lifestyle that can contribute to greater success and better outcomes when used in combination with the bariatric surgery. From there, the psychologist might assess your cognitive understanding of weight loss, obesity, and the bariatric surgery. They are looking to ensure that you understand how weight loss occurs and what the risks are for both the surgery and obesity. This is also an excellent time for them to review your coping skills and how those play into your weight loss goals. For example, someone who binges whenever they feel stressed out may not be an ideal candidate for a bariatric surgery. Once these two pieces are examined, the psychologist can take a closer look at your physical developmental history using your own report and any medical records that are available. They will also examine your current life circumstances including any stressors that could contribute to an unsuccessful outcome with your surgery. Last but not least, your pre-surgical evaluation will go over your motivation for wanting the bariatric surgery and help you to manage your expectations for the outcome. This is an important step to prevent disappointment and unrealistic expectations regarding the weight loss that you may see following the surgery. Assessing this part of your psyche allows you to truly evaluate whether this surgery is something that you want and need for your health.

Surgeries and Procedures Requiring a Psychological Assessment.

While bariatric weight loss surgery evaluations are certainly very common, this is not the only surgery to require a psychological assessment. Many patients who are undergoing major surgical operations can benefit from having a psychological assessment performed by a trained clinician. Much like with bariatric surgery, these assessments help the treatment team to identify whether a patient is a good candidate for a successful outcome from the procedure. In addition, it also helps the patient to gain a better understanding of the operation and the potential outcome. Two of the other procedures that often benefit from a psychological assessment include spinal cord stimulators and intrathecal pumps. Let’s take a closer look at what these surgeries are and why an evaluation is an essential part of the process.

Spinal Cord Stimulator

A spinal cord stimulator is a small device that is surgically implanted beneath the skin. This device is designed to deliver electrical impulses to your spinal cord, specifically to the nerve fibers that send messages to the brain. The pain messages that would ordinarily be received by the brain are modified and, in some instances, are entirely masked, helping to alleviate chronic neck and back pain. A psychological assessment is necessary for a spinal cord stimulator because the surgery can cause a surge in depression and anxiety symptoms. It can be helpful to know beforehand that a patient could be prone to this response, allowing for better treatment post-procedure. At the end of the evaluation, you may also receive feedback for other types of treatment that can help alleviate these psychological symptoms.

Intrathecal Pumps

Intrathecal pumps are small devices that are implanted into the body to deliver pain medication directly to an affected area. They are used to help manage chronic back pain by applying medication directly to the area surrounding the spinal cord, also known as the intrathecal space. For those who live with chronic pain in these areas, an intrathecal pump can be a life-changing device. Receiving your medication this way can drastically relieve your pain and can be done with fewer side effects than taking the painkillers orally. Much like a spinal cord stimulator, intrathecal pumps also require a psychological evaluation prior to the procedure. These are designed to make sure that patients understand the risks associated with the surgery as well as the potential benefits. However, it is also designed to assess whether the patient is prepared emotionally and psychologically for their intrathecal pump. A psychologist may be able to recommend other types of treatment such as talk therapy that should be used simultaneously with the pump to help manage any underlying emotional issues. Having a pre-surgical assessment doesn’t have to be a frightening part of your upcoming procedure. It is ultimately designed to help you gain the most benefit from whichever type of procedure or surgery you are having. Consider it an opportunity to learn more about your operation, the potential outcomes, and to gain access to a more complete treatment plan if necessary.

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