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On the day

The nurse will go through a series of questions on a checklist to make sure you are ready for surgery. They ask you to:

  • tell them when you last had something to eat and drink
  • change into a hospital gown
  • put on a pair of surgical stockings
  • take off any jewellery (except for a wedding ring)
  • take off any make up, including nail varnish
  • remove contact lenses if you have them
  • put on 2 hospital identification bands usually on each wrist

If you have false teeth you can usually keep them in until you get to the anaesthetic room.

Asking questions

Do ask as many questions as you need to. It may help to make a list before you go into hospital. If you have more questions when you’re there, the nurses can answer them or get the doctor to talk to you again.

Shaving the operation area

The nurse may shave the area where your wound will be. This is usually your side or back, but sometimes across the chest and tummy. Shaving can reduce the risk of an infection in your wound.

They may shave you in the ward, or in the operating theatre after you've had your anaesthetic.

Pre med

Your nurse might give you a tablet or an injection to help you relax. This is called a pre med. This will be an hour or so before you go to the operating theatre. This makes your mouth feel dry but you can rinse your mouth with water to keep it moist.

If you've had medicine to help you relax your nurse and a porter take you to theatre on a trolley. You can walk down to the theatre if you haven't had any.

Having an anaesthetic

You have an anaesthetic so that you can’t feel anything during the operation. You have this in the anaesthetic room, next to the operating theatre.

All the doctors and nurses wear theatre gowns, hats and masks. This reduces your chance of getting an infection.

Before you go to sleep your anaesthetist might put a small tube through the skin of your back. It goes into the fluid around your spinal cord. They can attach a pump to this tube to give you pain medicines during and after the operation.

The anaesthetist puts a small tube into a vein in your arm (cannula). You have any fluids and medicines you need through the cannula including the general anaesthetic. This sends you into a deep sleep. When you wake up, the operation will be over.