Going into hospital

You'll probably go into hospital on the day of your operation. Some people may need to go in the day before.

What to take with you

Take in:

  • nightgowns or pyjamas
  • underwear
  • dressing gown
  • slippers
  • contact lenses, solution, glasses and a case
  • wash bag with soap, a flannel or sponge, toothbrush and toothpaste
  • sanitary wear or tampons
  • razor
  • towel
  • small amount of money
  • medicines you normally take
  • magazines, books, playing cards
  • headphones and music to listen to
  • a tablet or smartphone for web browsing, entertainment and phone calls

Time in hospital

How long you stay in hospital depends on the type of operation you have and your recovery. Everyone takes a different amount of time to recover. Ask your doctor or clinical nurse specialist how long they think you will stay in hospital. 

Family and friends

Before you go into hospital, it might be worth checking:

  • whether the ward is allowing visitors
  • if they have set visiting times
  • the best number for friends and family to phone, to find out how you are

The letter you receive before your operation may contain this information. But if not, you can phone the ward or hospital reception to find out.

You can use your mobile phone in hospital. But there may be some time before and after your operation when you won’t have your mobile nearby. And you may not feel like talking.

Before you go into hospital

It’s worth sorting out a few things before you go into hospital. These might include:

  • work
  • care for children or other loved ones
  • care for your pets
  • care for your house
  • cancelling your milk or newspapers

On the day of the operation

On the day of your neuroendocrine tumour (NET) operation, you might have a general anaesthetic or you may only have sedation. 

You may also have a somatostatin analogue called octreotide as a continuous drip into your vein. This is to prevent a serious complication called carcinoid crisis. Not everyone is at risk of developing carcinoid crisis.

Your doctor or cancer nurse specialist can tell you what will happen on the day of your operation. 

Before your surgery

Your 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 one on each wrist

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

For some types of surgery, you need to shave the skin over the operation area. Or the nurse might shave it for you. They might do this when you’re under anaesthetic in the operating room.

Medicine to relax

Your nurse might give you a tablet or an injection to help you relax. 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.

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.

Sedation instead of an anaesthetic

You might have sedation instead of a general anaesthetic if you are having surgery to remove a small tumour from your bowel or stomach during a colonoscopy or endoscopy.

Sedation means you are awake but drowsy. You won't remember much about the procedure afterwards. Your doctor gives you the sedation through a cannula in the back of your hand or in your arm. 

Medicine to prevent carcinoid crisis

Carcinoid crisis happens when NETs make large amounts of hormones and proteins. It can happen for no reason. In some people, an anaesthetic can set it off. 

To prevent carcinoid crisis, you may have a somatostatin analogue called octreotide. You have octreotide as a continuous drip into your vein (intravenously) for a few hours before your operation. 

When you wake up from surgery

After the operation, you usually wake up in the recovery room, the intensive care unit (ICU) or the high dependency unit (HDU).

Last reviewed: 
16 Mar 2021
Next review due: 
16 Nov 2024
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    Wiley-Blackwell, 2015

  • Routine preoperative tests for elective surgery
    The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2016

  • Cancer Principles and practice of oncology (11th edition)
    VT. De Vita and others
    Wolters Kluwer, 2019

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