Preoperative General Surgery
Preoperative procedures and lab work are designed to improve the outcome of the surgery, decrease the risk for complications, and make the surgery as safe and effective as possible.
If you are to receive a general anesthesia for their surgery, which renders you unconscious, you must refrain from eating or drinking for at least 8 hours before surgery. Most instructions indicate that nothing is to be taken by mouth after midnight, on the night prior to the procedure. It may seem harsh, but this precaution minimizes the risk for complications such as vomiting during surgery.
Discontinuing prescription and over-the-counter medications that “thin” the blood, such as aspirin is necessary prior to surgery. The blood-thinning drug may be held or administered and is based on the your medical condition, the type of drug, and the scheduled surgical procedure. If you are taking any other prescription medications, the schedule for which you are to take them leading up to surgery and on the day of surgery will be reviewed with you.
Arrival at the Hospital or Surgery Center
If surgery is being done as an outpatient procedure, you must arrange for ride home upon discharge. Even if the anesthesia has worn off, grogginess can last several hours and it is unsafe to drive. Also, you may need assistance when you get home.
If surgery is being done as an inpatient procedure, you will check into the hospital and be assigned a room. Most often you will return to your room after surgery, but if you undergo a complex surgical procedure or have complications you may go to the intensive care unit (ICU). Outpatients usually go to an area designated for same day surgery.
After your arrival, time is needed to prepare you for the procedure, which can possibly take several hours depending on the procedure. Sometimes, the time of surgery may need to be changed due to cancellations or emergencies with the hospital or surgeon.
All patients must sign an informed consent form. This form is an acknowledgment that you are aware of risks and complications of the surgery, that you know you will be receiving anesthesia, and that the surgeon has explained the operation to you. The surgery cannot proceed unless the consent form is signed.
You will be asked to remove personal items (e.g., jewelry, eyeglasses, hairpieces, contact lenses, dentures) before surgery. This policy protects you and prevents the items from being lost or damaged. Depending on the procedure, eyeglasses or hearing aids may be worn until in the operating room.
Different staff members may ask the same questions. The clerk who checks you in asks several questions, as does the admitting nurse and the anesthesiologist. While these questions may seem very redundant and tedious, the information is always checked and double-checked to prevent serious errors and omissions.
Patients are usually taken to a preoperative or holding area before surgery. The anesthesiology team will meet with you here, perform a brief physical examination, and take your history. They obtain information regarding medication used, drug allergies, and prior adverse reactions to anesthesia. This information helps the anesthesiologist select the most suitable anesthetic agents and dosages to avoid complications. An intravenous line (IV) will be started here if you do not already have one. A sedative may be given to help you relax before the surgery.