What is Informed Consent

Before having any surgery or some procedures, you will be asked to sign a consent form. This form says that the doctor or surgeon has told you about the operation, the risks involved, and what results to expect. It’s important to talk about all your concerns before signing this form. Your doctor or surgeon should be willing to take the time needed to make sure you know what is likely to happen before, during, and after surgery.

Each of the following are examples of conditions or procedures that typically require informed consent.

Cardiac Catheterization?

Cardiac catheterization (KATH-e-ter-i-ZA-shun) is a medical procedure used to diagnose and treat certain heart conditions.

A long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter is put into a blood vessel in your arm, groin (upper thigh), or neck and threaded to your heart. Through the catheter, doctors can do diagnostic tests and treatments on your heart.

For example, your doctor may put a special dye in the catheter. This dye will flow through your bloodstream to your heart. Once the dye reaches your heart, it will make the inside of your coronary (heart) arteries show up on an x ray. This test is called coronary angiography (an-jee-OG-ra-fee).

The dye can show whether a substance called plaque (plak) has narrowed or blocked any of your coronary arteries. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in your blood.

Plaque narrows the inside of the arteries and, in time, may restrict blood flow to your heart. When plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the condition is called coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease.

Blockages in the coronary arteries also can be seen using ultrasound during cardiac catheterization. Ultrasound uses sound waves to create detailed pictures of the heart’s blood vessels.

Doctors may take samples of blood and heart muscle during cardiac catheterization and do minor heart surgery.

Cardiologists (heart specialists) usually do cardiac catheterization in a hospital. You’re awake during the procedure, and it causes little to no pain. However, you may feel some soreness in the blood vessel where the catheter was inserted. Cardiac catheterization rarely causes serious complications.

Neurological Disorder Procedures

When the brain is healthy it functions quickly and automatically. But when problems occur, the results can be devastating and medical procedures may be necessasry. Some 50 million people in this country—one in five—suffer from damage to the nervous system. The NINDS supports research on more than 600 neurological diseases. Some of the major types of disorders include: neurogenetic diseases (such as Huntington’s disease and muscular dystrophy), developmental disorders (such as cerebral palsy), degenerative diseases of adult life (such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease), metabolic diseases (such as Gaucher’s disease), cerebrovascular diseases (such as stroke and vascular dementia), trauma (such as spinal cord and head injury), convulsive disorders (such as epilepsy), infectious diseases (such as AIDS dementia), and brain tumors.

Outpatient Surgery

Outpatient surgery, sometimes called same-day surgery, is common for many types of operations. Outpatient surgery can be done in a special part of the hospital or in a surgical center. You will go home within hours after the surgery. Outpatient surgery can cost less than an overnight hospital stay. Your doctor will tell you if outpatient surgery is right for you.


Anesthesia helps many of us during our lives, whether we need a local painkiller at the dentist, numbing eye drops for laser vision correction or general anesthesia for major surgery. But even though anesthetics have been used in many procedures for more than 150 years, doctors and scientists still don’t know exactly how these medicines work in the body.

For more information, visit the National Institute of Health (NIH) at www.nih.nih.gov.