At LA Cancer Network, we understand the anxiety surrounding surgery for yourself or your loved one. Our physicians and staff are your best resource for information and instructions on how to prepare for your surgery and what you need to do to help improve the outcome of the surgery, decrease the risk for complications and how to have the safest and most effective surgery possible.
Preparing at Home
Patients who will be given general anesthesia, which will allow you to be unconscious during the procedure will need to stop eating or drinking anything for at least 8 hours prior to surgery. Typically, you will be instructed to take nothing by mount after midnight on the night before your surgery. It is important that you follow these instructions carefully to minimize the risk for complications. Some patients will be instructed to discontinue medications, especially ones that cause thinning of the blood, such as aspirin. Be sure to inform your healthcare team of any and all medications you are currently on. Depending on the type of surgery you are having, your preparation may require you to take special drinks, laxatives, and/or get on an altered diet. To reduce the risk of complications, you will be required to prepare your digestive tract to be as empty as possible before surgery. This will prevent leakage of stomach contents into the abdominal cavity, which can cause infections, and other serious complications.
Arrival at the Hospital or Surgical Center
It is wise to arrive early on the day of surgery. You will need to allot time for all hospital paperwork to be done and for any questions or discussions with your anesthesiologist and surgeons. You will be asked to acknowledge that you are aware of risks and complications, that you know you will be receiving anesthesia, and that the surgeon has explained the operation to you. You will be asked these types of questions by one or more of the hospital staff, and you may have to answer the same questions repeatedly. This is done on purpose as a way to check and double-check any issues regarding your surgery, and is an effective measure against errors and omissions. Once you have read and signed all the necessary consent forms, the surgery can proceed.
You will be asked to remove all personal items (e.g., jewelry, eyeglasses, hairpieces, contact lenses, dentures) before surgery. It is wise to leave your jewelry and/or hair accessories at home. If you wear contacts or glasses, or have a hearing aid, be sure to ask you doctor if it is appropriate to keep these items with you during surgery.
The anesthesiologist will perform a physical examination, take your health history and obtain information on the medications you use on a regular basis, any drug allergies, or any prior adverse reactions to anesthesia. This information helps the anesthesiologist select the most suitable anesthetic agents and dosages to avoid complications. Immediately prior to surgery, the anesthetics will be administered through an intravenous line (IV), or may be given by injection, and occasionally orally.
If your surgery is being done on an outpatient basis, please have someone accompany you after the procedure. Sedatives or anesthesia you may have received for your procedure can have effects, such as grogginess, and nausea, that can last several hours. It will not be safe for you to drive and you may need assistance when you get home. If surgery is being done on an inpatient basis, you will check into a room at the hospital. Following surgery, patients may be taken to recover in the intensive care unit (ICU), or to their room after surgery.