Preparing for your anaesthetic
Preparing for a surgical procedure may begin several days beforehand and is important to ensuring your surgery is as safe and effective as possible. Being well-prepared both physically and mentally can help you experience less anxiety and recover faster.
Your anaesthetist and our practice staff will guide you through these important instructions and steps.
Need a quote?
We suggest all patients contact us well before any booked procedure to obtain a detailed quote for anaesthetic services. Please call to request a quote, or submit the Quote Request form.
Online health questionnaire
Your anaesthetist may ask you to complete an online health questionnaire to assist with planning for your anaesthetic. Our anaesthetist may then contact you prior to your procedure if any important steps are required to prepare for your anaesthetic (e.g. ceasing certain medications).
Contacting your anaesthetist
If you have a history of problems with anaesthetics, any medical illnesses you think may impact the anaesthetic, or any general concerns, we encourage you to contact us.
Our support staff will be able to get you in touch with your anaesthetist who will either arrange an appointment to see you in person or discuss any issues with you over the phone.
Smoking and alcohol
Ideally you should stop smoking 6 weeks before surgery, however even 12 hours without cigarettes has shown to improve surgical outcomes and reduce anaesthetic complications. We recommend as a minimum, you should not smoke within 12 hours of your surgery.
Patients who smoke are at risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, cancer and lung disease. Whilst preparing for their surgery, many of our patients have used this opportunity to successfully quit smoking.
For help to quit smoking please click here.
No alcohol should be consumed during the 24 hours before surgery. Alcohol consumption can have a significant impact on how you respond to an anaesthetic and may increase the risk of complications.
If you are unwell
It is important to notify your family doctor, surgeon or anaesthetist if you become unwell in the days leading up to your procedure. There may be an increased risk of complications (for example, breathing issues if you have a cold or the flu) associated with your anaesthetic and procedure if you are unwell.
Your overall safety and health is our top priority and your anaesthetist and surgeon will determine whether you should proceed with or delay your procedure until you are in better condition.
It is important that you tell your anaesthetist exactly what medications you are taking – including prescription and non-prescription drugs, herbal medicines and vitamins, alcohol, nicotine and street drugs.
It is generally best to continue the majority of your regular medications unless specified by your surgeon with some exceptions noted below. If you are not given information on what to do with your medications or are unsure please contact your anaesthetist.
Blood thinning medications e.g. aspirin, clopidogrel, warfarin, dabigatran, apixiban, rivaroxaban
Your surgeon in conjunction with your cardiologist, GP or physician will determine the risks associated with your operation and these medications and advise whether to discontinue.
Diabetic medications e.g. empagliflozin, metformin, gliclazide, insulin
Often diabetic medications will need to be omitted or the dose adjusted (particularly for insulin) to prevent blood sugar falling too low when fasting. Your diabetes specialist or anaesthetist will be able to advise you on necessary adjustments.
It is important to continue all cardiac medications including medications for your blood pressure prior to your surgery as omitting these can increase the risk of complications during your anaesthetic.
A prescribed medication for reflux may be continued prior to your surgery, however non-prescription antacids such as Mylanta, should be discussed with your anaesthetist and generally omitted the day before surgery.
Fasting for your procedure
It is important that you follow fasting instructions prior to your procedure. This reduces the risk of stomach contents passing into your windpipe and causing damage to your lungs (known as aspiration).
We generally recommend the following fasting guidelines-
- Non-fatty solid food can be taken up to six hours prior to your procedure
- Clear fluids (water, pulp free fruit juice, black tea or coffee) can be taken up to two hours prior to your procedure. We encourage you to drink clear fluids until this cut-off point to maintain good hydration. Milk based drinks or alcohol should not be taken.
- Medications may be taken with a sip of water less than two hours prior to anaesthesia
For children (>1yo)
- Breast milk, formula and solid food can be taken up to six hours prior to your child’s procedure
- Clear fluids (as above) can be taken up to two hours prior to your child’s procedure and is encouraged to maintain good hydration for your child.
Patients having an endoscopy or colonoscopy should follow the specific diet provided by their surgeon or gastroenterologist.
For most procedures, you will meet your anaesthetist on the day of your procedure. Your anaesthetist will ask you questions about your health to individually tailor the most appropriate anaesthetic for you.
Different kinds of anaesthesia may be used for your anaesthetic and are broadly categorised into:
Local anaesthesia – injected under the skin around (or local to) the area to be operated on. Patients may be awake or receive sedation.
Regional anaesthesia (including nerve blocks, epidural, spinal) – injection of local anaesthetic made often with the assistance of ultrasound to pinpoint major nerve bundles in a specific location dependant on where the surgery or pain relief is required.
Sedation – administration of medication to reduce a patient’s level of consciousness so they are unaware and in no pain.
General anaesthesia – is a state of controlled unconsciousness. A patient undergoing a general anaesthetic will not respond to any stimuli or feel any pain.
Regardless of the type of anaesthetic you receive, your anaesthetist will remain by your side for the duration of your anaesthetic and procedure. Throughout this time, your anaesthetist monitors and records your vital signs and adjusts fluid and drug administration to ensure you remain as stable and comfortable as possible.
Once your procedure is completed, you will be transferred to the recovery area to wake up as your anaesthetic wears off. In the recovery area, a nurse will care for you – monitoring your vital signs, checking any surgical wounds and ensuring you receive adequate pain relief and treatment for common side effects of anaesthesia such as nausea and vomiting.
If you have undergone a procedure which enables you to go home the same day, your anaesthetist will provide a prescription if you require stronger pain relief at home. It is also important that someone drives you home or accompanies you in a taxi and stays with you overnight as you recover from surgery and the residual effects of your anaesthetic.
You are advised not to drive any vehicles, operate equipment or make important personal or business decisions for at least 24 hours following your procedure. You should not drink alcohol or take any sedating drugs during this time.