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Patient Resources

Fasting Guidelines
& Preparation

The following instructions are to ensure a successful surgery or medical procedure and must be followed to avoid your appointment from being delayed or canceled.
  • Unless otherwise instructed, do not eat or drink anything eight hours before your surgery, including water, juice, coffee, chewing gum, mints, etc. (Any amount of food or drink can be a cause to cancel or delay surgery, as a result of potential aspiration of the patient during surgery.)
  • Do not drink any alcoholic beverages or smoke 24 hours before or after your procedure. Smoking and alcohol can adversely affect your anesthesia and other medicines administered during surgery.

  • Bring your medications with you to the pre-procedure visit and to the hospital the day of your procedure. Please consult with your primary physician about what medications should be taken on the day of surgery.
  • If your surgery requires the administration of anesthesia, a family member or friend must take you home.

After Your

After surgery, you will be taken to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit, where you will be monitored and cared for while awakening from anesthesia.

  • The nurse taking care of you will notify your family members when they may join you in the recovery area.
  • After you have awakened and your vital signs are stable, you will be discharged home with a family member or friend or taken to your hospital room.
  • Drowsiness should be expected the day of your surgery, and it is advised that a responsible adult stay overnight.

  • Do not drive a car, operate machinery, drink alcoholic beverages or take non-prescription medication without your doctor's permission for at least 24 hours after surgery because normal coordination and various reflexes may be impaired.
  • Occasionally, some patients may need to be observed or treated in the hospital overnight or until they are well enough to go home.
  • If you experience any unexpected pain, heavy bleeding, or a high temperature after surgery, call your doctor or immediately go to the emergency room.

Commonly Asked Questions

Are there different kinds of anesthesia?

Yes. Depending on the surgery and patient factors, anesthesia can include general anesthesia, regional anesthesia, and/or epidural/spinal anesthesia. 

Local anesthesia:

The anesthetic drug is usually injected into the tissue to numb just the specific location of your body, requiring minor surgery, for example, on the hand or foot.

Regional Anesthesia:

Your anesthesiologist may offer this in place of or in addition to general anesthesia. Regional anesthesia involves administering relaxation medication into your IV, then injecting local anesthesia medications near a specific nerve or group of nerves to help with the pain of surgery. Another frequently used technique to help facilitate patient comfort is either spinal or epidural anesthesia in which your anesthesiologist will very carefully inject local anesthesia near the spinal cord.

General anesthesia:

Many surgeries require general anesthesia. This entails your anesthesiologist carefully administering medications through an IV and/or breathing tube to make the brain and body relax so surgery can be completed. Your anesthesiologist will monitor you closely throughout surgery to ensure you are as safe and as comfortable as possible. After surgery, your anesthesia team will reverse the process, and you will regain awareness in the recovery room.

Is anesthesia safe?

Thanks to advances in patient safety, the risks of anesthesia are very low. Over the past 25 years, anesthesia-related deaths have decreased from two deaths per 10,000 anesthetics administered to one death per 200,000 to 300,000 anesthetics administered. Certain types of illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity, can increase your anesthesia risks. Even so, anesthesia teams routinely bring even very sick patients through major operations safely.

What are the risks of anesthesia?

All operations and all anesthesia have some risks, and they are dependent upon many factors, including the type of surgery and the medical condition of the patient. Fortunately, adverse events are very rare. Your anesthesia team takes precautions to prevent an accident from occurring. The specific risks of anesthesia vary with the particular procedure and the condition of the patient. You should ask your anesthesia team about any risks that may be associated with your anesthesia.

May I request what type of anesthesia I will receive?

Yes, in certain situations. Some operations can be performed using different anesthetic procedures. After reviewing your individual situation, your anesthesia team will discuss available options with you. If there is more than one type of anesthetic procedure available, your preference should be discussed with your anesthesia team in order for the most appropriate anesthetic plan to be made.

Should I continue to take my medications prior to surgery?

It is important to tell the doctors providing your care what medications you are taking prior to surgery so that they can be involved in making the decision about stopping or continuing these medications.

Could herbal medicines, vitamins, and other dietary supplements affect my anesthesia if I need surgery?

Anesthesiologists are conducting research to determine exactly how certain herbs and dietary supplements interact with certain anesthetics. They are finding that certain herbal medicines may prolong the effects of anesthesia. Others may increase the risks of bleeding or raise blood pressure. So it is very important to tell your doctor about everything you take before surgery.

How will my anesthesia team know how much anesthesia to give me?

There is no single or right amount of anesthesia for all patients. Every anesthetic must be tailored to the individual and to the operation or procedure that the person is having. Individuals have different responses to anesthesia. Some of these differences are genetic, or inborn, and some differences are due to changes in health or illness. The amount of anesthesia needed can differ according to such things as age, weight, gender, medications being taken, or specific illnesses (such as heart or brain conditions).

Among the things the anesthesia team measures or observes and uses to guide the type and amount of anesthetic given are: heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, breathing rate or pattern, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, and exhaled anesthetic concentration. Because every patient is unique, the anesthesia team must carefully adjust anesthetic levels for each individual patient.

Why do I need to have an empty stomach prior to surgery?

It is very important that patients have an empty stomach before any surgery or procedure that needs anesthesia. When anesthesia is given, it is common for all the normal reflexes to relax. This condition makes it easy for stomach contents to go backwards into the esophagus (food tube) and mouth or even the windpipe and lungs. Because the stomach contains acid, if any stomach contents do get into the lungs, they can cause serious pneumonia, called aspiration pneumonitis.

What are the different types of sedation?

Sedation allows patients to be comfortable during certain surgical or medical procedures. Sedation can provide pain relief and relief of anxiety that may accompany some treatments or diagnostic tests. During light or moderate sedation, patients are awake and able to respond appropriately to instructions. However, during deep sedation, patients are likely to sleep through a procedure with little or no memory. Breathing can slow, and supplemental oxygen is often given during deep sedation.

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