Fasting (Nil by Mouth)

For patients in the MORNING

Do not eat anything or drink anything containing milk after 2am.

Between 2am and 6 am you can drink water or dilute squash.

After 6am you MUST NOT eat or drink anything and MUST NOT chew chewing gum.

For patients in the AFTERNOON

Do not eat anything or drink anything containing milk after 7am.

Between 7am and 11am you can drink water or dilute squash.

After 11am you MUST NOT eat or drink anything and MUST NOT chew any chewing gum.

For patients on ALL DAY LIST

Use morning list guidance unless instructed otherwise by anaesthetist or surgeon.

Before the Operation

Your anaesthetist will meet you before your operation and will:

  • Ask you about your health
  • Discuss with you which types of anaesthetic can be used
  • Discuss with you the benefits, risks and your preferences
  • Decide with you which anaesthetic would be best for you
  • Decide for you, if you would prefer that.

The choice of anaesthetic depends on:

  • Your operation
  • Your answers to the questions you have been asked
  • Your physical condition
  • Your preferences and the reasons for them
  • Your anaesthetist’s recommendations for you and the reasons for them
  • The equipment, staff and other resources at your hospital.

When you are called for your operation:

  • A member of staff will go with you to the theatre.
  • You can wear your glasses, hearing aids and dentures until you are in the anaesthetic room.
  • Jewellery and decorative piercing should ideally be removed. If you cannot remove your jewellery, it can be covered with
  • tape to prevent damage to it or to your skin.
  • Theatre staff will check your identification bracelet, your name and date of birth, and will ask you about other details in your medical records as a final check that you are having the right operation. 


If You Smoke

You should not smoke on the day of your operation. Giving up for several weeks before the operation reduces the risk of breathing problems and makes your anaesthetic safer. The longer you can give up beforehand, the better. If you cannot stop smoking completely, cutting down will help.

If you are taking medicines

You should continue to take them as usual, unless you have been told not to do so.

If you are unwell

Please telephone the ward for advice.

The Anaesthetic

Your anaesthetic may start in the anaesthetic room or in the operating theatre. The anaesthetist will attach monitors, which measure your heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels.

There are two ways of starting a general anaesthetic:

  • Anaesthetic drugs may be injected into a vein through the cannula (generally used for adults)
  • You can breathe anaesthetic gases and oxygen through a mask, which you may hold if you prefer.

Once you are unconscious, an anaesthetist stays with you at all times and continues to give you drugs to keep you anaesthetised. As soon as the operation is finished, the drugs will be stopped or reversed so that you regain consciousness.