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On the day

On the day of the operation you:

  • stop eating for about 6 hours before your operation, but you can still drink clear fluids (nothing fizzy) up to 2 hours beforehand
  • change into a hospital gown
  • take off jewellery (except for a wedding ring)
  • take off make up, including nail varnish
  • remove contact lenses if you have them 

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

Your nurse will check your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and breathing rate. 

The nurses can arrange for a member of the surgical team to come and talk to you if you still have any questions about your operation. You'll sign a consent form for the operation if you didn't do it at the pre assessment clinic.

You might have a drip (intravenous infusion) put into your arm before your surgery so that you can have fluids. This makes sure you are not dehydrated before your operation.

Your nurse may ask you to have suppositories or an enema to clear out your bowel. This will help you avoid being constipated after your operation.

Your nurse and a porter take you to theatre on a trolley or you can walk.

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.

Last reviewed: 
31 Jan 2019
  • The Royal Marsden Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures, 9th edition
    L Dougherty and S Lister (Editors)
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2015

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