How to Prepare for Anesthesia | MedStar Health

If you are preparing for a procedure that requires anesthesia, here are a few tips that may help ensure a smooth experience.

Attend pre-anesthesia testing

Once your surgery is scheduled, a nurse will call you to determine if you need a pre-anesthesia testing appointment, which will help ensure you are medically ready on the day of surgery. Depending on your medical condition and procedure, your nurse may conduct the appointment via phone or in-person.

At the pre-anesthesia testing appointment, you can expect to:

  • Meet with a registered nurse (RN) and nurse practitioner (NP)

  • Discuss any concerns with an anesthesiologist

  • Provide a list of all medications you use, including prescription, nonprescription, and over-the-counter medications and supplements. (Include any dietary supplements you take regularly, such as vitamins, herbals, and other products)

  • Provide a list of names and phone numbers for your primary care doctor and any specialists you routinely visit

  • Provide a list of allergies to medication and/or food

  • Complete any required diagnostic tests (blood tests, urine test, X-rays, etc.)

During this appointment, the anesthesia team will also:

  • Ask about chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure

  • Discuss the risks and benefits of the type of anesthesia needed for your surgery

  • Answer any questions or concerns you have

Stick to your dietary instructions

To keep you safe, there are special guidelines about when to stop eating and drinking. Your care team will advise you on when to stop eating or drinking before a procedure to ensure your safety and prevent nausea.

Please note that some surgeries may require you to fast. Be sure to follow the instructions from your surgeon or anesthesia team.

In general, you should refrain from eating solid foods within eight hours of your scheduled arrival time. Continue drinking clear, “see-through” liquids up to two hours before you are scheduled to arrive for your procedure.

Here is a sample schedule of when to stop eating and drinking, based on your scheduled arrival time.

Stop Solid Foods at Stop Non-clear Liquids at Drink Clear Liquids Until Arrival Time
10 p.m. 12 a.m. 4 a.m. 6 a.m.
2 a.m. 4 a.m. 8 a.m. 10 a.m.
6 a.m. 8 a.m. 12 p.m. 2 p.m.

Ask your doctor about medications

Do not consume any alcoholic beverages for 24 hours prior to surgery.

If you are taking medications, check with your doctor or the preoperative nurse to see whether you need to take anything on the day of surgery. You may be instructed to change your medication schedule or STOP taking certain medications, depending on your procedure and medical history.

Arrange transportation

For procedures requiring general or regional anesthesia, you should make arrangements for a responsible adult to drive you home following surgery. If you will be undergoing general anesthesia, plan to have someone stay with you for 24 hours.