Preparing for anaesthesia
‘Day of surgery admission’ and ‘day surgery’
Almost all patients are now admitted to hospital on the same day as their operation. Depending on the hospital’s requirements, you may be waiting for some hours. There will normally only be limited time available for you to talk to your anaesthetist before your procedure. If you are having a major procedure, or have concerns about your health or anaesthesia, it is beneficial to consult with your anaesthetist at a separate visit before the day of your surgery.
Make sure that you leave plenty of time to get to the hospital and the admissions area prior to your designated arrival time. There can often be a considerable waiting period at hospitals, so bring something to read or listen to and try to remain relaxed – as difficult as this may be! Your anaesthetist and the hospital staff are there to look after you.
Remember, if you have any concerns or questions please contact your anaesthetist prior to coming to hospital.
What should I tell the anaesthetist?
Your anaesthetist will meet with you before your operation to discuss your health, general medical condition, any previous anaesthesia and will perform a relevant examination.
Depending on the type of operation, hospital or facility, this may not occur until immediately before your procedure. The anaesthetist will want to know:
How healthy you are and whether you have had any recent illnesses, with a particular focus on heart or
What previous operations you have had and whether there were any problems with anaesthesia.
If you have had any abnormal reactions to any medications and whether you have any allergies.
Whether you have a history of reflux or heartburn, asthma, bronchitis, heart problems or any other medical
5. Whether you are currently taking any drugs, prescribed or otherwise – including cigarettes and alcohol
– and whether you are taking ‘blood thinners’, otherwise known as ‘antiplatelet drugs’ or ‘anticoagulants’.
These include aspirin, clopidogrel [Plavix], warfarin, Pradaxa and Xarelto. Please bring all your current
medications in their original packaging.
6. If you have any loose, capped or crowned teeth or implants, have ‘veneers’ or ‘bonding’, or wear dentures or
You may be given questionnaires to complete, or be asked questions by nurses, before seeing your anaesthetist. Your anaesthetist needs to have the best possible picture of you and your present condition so that the most suitable anaesthesia can be planned. Answer all questions honestly – it is really all about minimising risk to you.
There are some things you can do which will make your anaesthesia safer.
Get a little fitter – regular walks will work wonders.
Don’t smoke – ideally, you need to stop six weeks before surgery. However, stopping for even 24 hours
can help. Your GP may be able to assist.
If you are overweight, make a serious attempt to reduce your weight before your procedure.
Minimise alcohol consumption.
Continue to take any medications which have been prescribed but remember to let your anaesthetist
and surgeon know what they are.
If you are taking aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents or other blood thinning drugs, consult
your surgeon or anaesthetist about whether you should stop taking them prior to surgery.
If you have any kind of health problem or have had problems with previous anaesthesia, tell your
anaesthetist and surgeon so that they are fully informed.
If you are concerned about your anaesthesia, make an appointment to see or talk your anaesthetist
before admission to hospital and get the answers you need.
For children, many hospitals can arrange a preoperative visit.
Discuss any herbal products you might be taking with your anaesthetist. It may be necessary to cease
taking them two to three weeks prior to surgery.
Inform your anaesthetist if you use ‘so called’ recreational drugs as these may interact with the anaesthesia.
Inform your surgeon/anaesthetist if you have any issues with blood transfusions.
Is fasting really necessary?
You will usually be advised to avoid food for six hours and fluids (including water) for three hours before your operation. Food or fluid in the stomach may be vomited and could enter your lungs while you are unconscious.
If you don’t follow this rule of fasting, the operation may be postponed in the interests of your safety. Your surgeon, anaesthetist or the hospital will advise you how long to fast.