In wartime Britain, notices were placed on all the railway stations demanding a reflection, “Is your journey really necessary?” Patients contemplating surgery should ask themselves, “Is my operation really necessary?”
Indications for surgery can be examined from the surgeon’s point of view, or from the patient’s. The surgeon knows what might be achieved if the operation is performed, but the patient is the one who must decide whether he/she wishes to undergo this operation, which in itself is rarely a pleasant experience, though nearly always far less unpleasant than feared.
The theoretical indication for surgery from the patient’s point of view is in fundamental terms very simple indeed, but when applied to your own personal situation it becomes much more complex.
The accountant talks of profit and loss. The investor talks about return on investment. The entrepreneur talks about risk to reward ratios.
The potential surgical patients must say to themselves, “I know I suffer this problem. Will surgery make me better?” And must know the answer to that risk/reward ratio. How much potential risk? How much potential reward? What might I gain? What might I lose? What might happen if I do have this operation? What might happen if I don’t? What return will I get on my investment in pain and money? What other options do I have?
The concept of risk/reward ratio should in conjunction with your doctors consider issues such as other health problems, weight, age and finances, as all of these play a part in that one important decision – Go or No Go.
“Would the inherent risks of the operation be justified by the potential reward?” That ultimate decision can only be made by the patient, and to make it wisely he should be informed about all relevant issues.