Haemostasis is defined as the stopping of a flow of blood.1 In all areas of surgery it is essential to achieve haemostasis to prevent complications, such as haemorrhage that may lead to shock and death or haematoma that may lead to infection and wound dehiscence.

In preparing any patient for surgery it is essential that a full preoperative history has been taken. It is of vital importance that information, such as bleeding disorders or a family history of bleeding disorders, is determined. In a recent study it was found that of the patients who developed postoperative bleeding complications, around 90% could have been avoided if a preoperative history of bleeding disorder had been recognised. The study also reported that such failures constituted a major public health problem.2 Other important preoperative information is whether the patient is receiving anti-platelet or anti-coagulant therapy (such as, aspirin, dipyridamole, or warfarin) and when or if this has been stopped.

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