Before your surgery or treatment


If you're having an anaesthetic for your operation or procedure, please read this information carefully and follow any instructions.

Before you come into hospital

To prepare for your operation, procedure or treatment, try to:

  • stop smoking
  • lose weight if you are overweight
  • see a dentist if you have loose or broken teeth
  • have a check-up with a GP if you have a long-term condition, such as asthma or diabetes

You can read our information about keeping well before surgery.

Before your procedure or treatment, we ask you some questions about your health. This might be during your pre-assessment appointment or on your ward.

During your pre-assessment appointment, we make sure that you are well enough for your operation or treatment. If any tests are needed, we will arrange them.

No eating and drinking

You must not eat for 6 hours before surgery.

You can drink clear, non-fizzy drinks (water, squash, black tea or black coffee) up to 2 hours before surgery.

If you continue to eat or drink, your surgery will be cancelled.

It’s important to follow these instructions. If there is food or liquid in your stomach during the anaesthetic, it could come up to the back of your throat and damage your lungs.

Do not eat anything after 2am.

You can drink non-fizzy water, squash, black tea or black coffee until 6am.

Have a light breakfast (toast or cereal) with a tea or coffee before 7am.

Do not eat anything after 7am.

You can drink non-fizzy water, squash, black tea or black coffee until 11am.

Medicines on the day of surgery

Please bring all of your medicines with you to hospital, including:

  • medicines prescribed by your GP
  • medicines you buy from a pharmacy or shop (including herbal remedies)

If you take medicines, you need to have your usual dose with a sip of water. This is unless your anaesthetist or surgeon has asked you not to.

If any of your medicines need to be temporarily stopped or changed around the time of your surgery or treatment, we explain how to do this at your pre-assessment appointment.

You can meet the anaesthetist before your operation.

We want to involve you in decisions about your care and treatment. Please tell your doctor or anaesthetist if you choose not to have the treatment, or if you want more time to decide.

If you decide to have the treatment, you will be asked to sign a consent form. This states that you agree to have the treatment and you understand what it involves.

If you would like more information about our consent process, please speak to a member of staff caring for you.

Going to the operating theatre

If you have been admitted to the ward before your surgery, you will go to the anaesthetic room with a nurse. Otherwise, theatre staff collect you from the surgical admission lounge.

The theatre staff check your identification bracelet for your name, date of birth and hospital number. They also ask you about other details in your medical records as a final check.

Resource number: 2737/VER5
Last reviewed: June 2023
Next review: June 2026

Trusted Information Creator. Patient Information Forum

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns about having an anaesthetic, please contact the team caring for you.

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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