About Anesthesia

Before You Arrive

You will receive a phone call from the Pre Anesthesia Clinic (PAS).

The PAS nurse will ask you about your health history and related issues. They may ask questions about the following:

  • Your health history – chronic (long-term) problems and recent changes
  • Medications, vitamins, supplements
  • Allergies
  • Recent hospital admissions including surgeries and procedures
  • Any problems with anesthesia in the past
  • Any personal or family history of Malignant Hyperthermia (MH)

They will also discuss some instructions about your particular surgery or procedure. One of these instructions will be when to stop eating or drinking before your surgery. This is called your Fasting Instructions or NPO Instructions (Nothing Per Os = Nothing by mouth). Fasting will allow time for food to move out of your stomach and into your small intestine so that there is much smaller chance of aspiration while you are anesthetized or sedated. Aspiration is when food and/or liquids come up from the stomach and go down into the lungs. This can cause serious illness and even death.

Fasting Instructions

Your surgeon’s office will give you specific instructions for this. It is very important that you comply with these instructions. Failure to follow them could result in postponement or cancellation of your surgery or procedure. You may brush your teeth and rinse with a small sip of water, but do not swallow any of it. If you have been told to take any medications the day of surgery, take them with just a small sip of water.

Last Solids Before Fasting Time

The last solid food you eat before your fasting time should be a light meal with low amounts of fat. This is because fatty foods and large volumes of food take longer to digest and pass beyond the stomach and into the small intestine. Fasting from solids also means:

  • NO Gum
  • NO Hard candy
  • NO Chewing tobacco

Clear Liquids – Special Instructions

If you are given instructions about consuming clear liquids up to a certain time before your surgery, it is important to be exact about this. You may be told to consume a specific type of clear liquid (possibly Gatorade, ClearFast or similar). If that is not specified, then clear liquids are things like:

  • Water
  • Fruit juice without pulp
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Clear tea
  • Black coffee (no cream, milk, or cream substitutes)

Consuming Alcohol

Alcohol should not be consumed 24 hours before surgery/procedures.

Bring a friend or relative on the day of surgery.

Our anesthesia providers are well trained in how to keep you safe in the hospital, and we want to assist you in staying safe once you leave the hospital. Depending on what type of surgical procedure and anesthesia you had, you may feel woozy or weak. Your ability to function, including driving a car may be impaired, and you may be at risk for abnormal behaviours, with an impaired ability to remember what you have said or done.

Regardless of how you may feel after your procedure, it is standard policy to have a responsible adult escort you home. This person will also receive your discharge instructions in case you have difficulty remembering and will ideally be available for immediate help or monitoring for the 24 hours following your surgery. For these reasons, it is against policy to drive yourself home or ride public transportation (bus, taxi, Uber, etc) or walk home without your responsible party present.

If you do not have an arrangement in place for a responsible adult to escort you home, your procedure will be cancelled.

Wear comfortable clothing and other preparations

You may be sore from surgery or have bandages that cover incisions, so wear clothes that are comfortable and loose fitting. You will be asked to remove contacts, jewelry, piercings and dentures prior to your procedure, so you may want to consider leaving these items at home. Bathe or shower the day of surgery (as instructed by your surgeon) and do not wear makeup, powder, lotion or deodorant. No hairspray or hairpins should be worn.

You should also bring (if needed):

  • Denture container
  • Hearing aid container
  • Eyeglass or contact lens case
  • Inhaler
  • Portable oxygen
  • CPAP machine
  • Cane, crutches or walker
  • Bring a list of medications you are taking; be sure you know the dose and time you take them. Tell your health care team about any prescriptions, over the counter medications, vitamins, herbals, recreational drugs, tobacco or alcohol.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) recommends that everyone stop herbal medicines at least 2-3 weeks before surgery (unless otherwise instructed) to avoid the possibility of unwanted interactions and side effects.  Visit www.asahq.org for additional resources on herbals.

Be Healthy, Stop Smoking

Cigarette smoking can cause postoperative problems. Smoking may slow down the healing of surgical wounds and bones. While it can take a long time to achieve all the benefits from not smoking, even brief periods of quitting can help you.

Visit www.smokefree.gov for more information.