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Nothing to eat or drink – fasting (‘Nil by mouth’)

The hospital will give you clear instructions about fasting. It is important to follow these. If there is food or liquid in your stomach during your anaesthetic, it could come up to the back of your throat and damage your lungs.

If you are a smoker you should not smoke on the day of your operation. This will help avoid breathing problems during your anaesthetic.

If you are taking medicines, you should continue to take them as usual, unless asked not to by the nurses in the Pre-assessment clinic, or by your anaesthetist or surgeon. For example, if you take drugs to stop you getting blood clots (anticoagulants), aspirin, drugs for diabetes or herbal remedies, you will need specific instructions.

If you feel unwell when you are due to come into hospital, please contact us on the following telephone numbers:

  • 01932 722498 - If up to the day before the operation.

The telephone number on your admission letter if on the day of surgery.


Before your operation

Your anaesthetist will meet you before your operation and will:

  • Check with you details about your health and current treatment, in case there have been any recent changes.
  • Discuss with you which types of anaesthetic can be used, and the various options for pain relief.
  • Discuss with you the benefits, risks and your preferences
  • Decide with you which anaesthetic would be best for you
  • Decide for you, if you would prefer that.


Choice of anaesthetic

The choice of anaesthetic depends on:

  • Your operation.
  • Your answers to the questions about your health, your drug treatment, and any allergies you may have.
  • Your physical condition.
  • Your preferences and the reasons for them.
  • Your anaesthetist’s recommendations for you and the reasons for them.
  • The equipment, staff and other resources at your hospital.



Premedication (a ‘premed’) is the name for drugs which are given before some anaesthetics:

  • Some premeds prepare your body for the anaesthetic. For example, drugs may be given to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach if you have a hiatus hernia.
  • Others help you to relax, and may make you more drowsy after the operation. If you want to go home on the same day, this may be delayed.
  • For many anaesthetics, a needle is used to place a thin plastic tube (cannula) into a vein in the back of your hand or arm. If this worries you, you can ask to have a local anaesthetic cream put on your arm to numb the skin before you leave the ward. The ward nurses will be able to do this.

If you think a premed would help you, ask your anaesthetist.


Nothing will happen to you until you understand and agree with what has been planned for you. You have the right to refuse if you do not want the treatment suggested or if you want more information or more time to decide.
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