On the day of your vaginal cancer surgery

On the day of your surgery, there are things you need to do before you go to the theatre for your operation.

Before your operation

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

Your nurse also goes through a series of questions on a checklist to make sure you are ready for surgery. They will also ask these questions in the anaesthetic room. They ask you to:

  • tell them you name and date of birth

  • tell them when you last had something to eat and drink

  • change into a hospital gown

  • 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 a pair of surgical stockings

  • put on 2 hospital identification bands usually on each wrist - if you have any allergies you will usually have an extra wristband so that your healthcare team are aware.

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

On the day of your operation, you will need to stop eating for several hours before surgery. 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.

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 if you didn't do this at the pre assessment clinic.

Shaving before surgery

For some types of surgery, you may need to have some of your hair removed around the operation area. Your nurse might do this while you are on the ward, or in the operating theatre after you've had your anaesthetic. 

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. 

Your nurse and a porter take you to theatre on a trolley if you’ve had this medicine. You can walk down to the theatre if you haven't had any.

Having an anaesthetic

The type of anaesthetic you have will depend on the operation you are going to have. Your anaesthetist or specialist doctor will tell you more about your 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 (cannula) into a vein in your arm. 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.

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 Royal Marsden Hospital Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures (10th Edition) 
    S Lister, J Hofland and H Grafton
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2020

Last reviewed: 
15 Mar 2024
Next review due: 
15 Mar 2027

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