Eating and Drinking before surgery - no, no #1!
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR ME NOT TO EAT OR DRINK BEFORE MY SURGERY?
One of the first things you will be told when you schedule a surgery is not to eat or drink beforehand. Why are these instructions so important? I am glad you asked…..not eating or drinking before your surgery is essential for a safe surgical procedure and recovery. These instructions are not to be taken lightly and are a key part of your safety during and after surgery. Eating or drinking in the hours you are supposed to be NPO (Nothing By Mouth) can be very dangerous. When you are "put under" by an anesthetic, your body reflexes are temporarily not working, and that could cause you to aspirate (inhale fluids into your lungs) if you've had something to eat or drink. Don't worry, we will give you thorough instructions of when you should stop eating and drinking before your surgery. Please read over and review the instructions before your scheduled procedure, so we can make sure you are as safe as possible during and after your surgery.
1st Step - Schedule the Surgery after the Diagnosis is made by your Doctor
At Tennessee Retina we try to make the surgery process as easy as possible for the patient. We have fantastic surgery schedulers that will take special care of you. Once you are told by the doctor that you need a surgical procedure, you will fill out and sign a few forms, often electronically, in the exam room. After leaving the exam room, we will have you speak to our surgery scheduler who will get everything set up for you and go over a few important details. Some of these details include going over a few medical history questions, where and what time to be at the surgery center, and of course, how long you have to remain NPO (Nothing By Mouth). All the information given to you is important, but remaining NPO prior to your procedure is essential for your safety.
What is Anesthesia?
Anesthesia is the state of controlled, temporary loss of awareness or physiological sensation. Anesthesia is used for medical purposes. For surgery, you can be put under local or general anesthesia. Local anesthesia is something we use often for a vitrectomy. Local anesthesia is when the local area of your body that is having the surgery is numbed, but you will be awake and alert during surgery. Patients who undergo local anesthesia are awake and alert during surgery but should not feel pain, just pressure, during the procedure.
General anesthesia is medically-induced unconsciousness. For this type of anesthesia, you will be asleep during your procedure. Your doctor will discuss local vs general anesthesia with you. Your general health and the extensive medical history you provide will help you and your doctor in making this decision. The choice of local vs general anesthesia will be based on what is the safest route for the patient.
What could happen if I eat or drink before my surgery?
When an anesthetic is used, some of your body reflexes are temporarily not working. If your stomach has any food or drink inside of it, then this puts you at risk for vomiting or food being brought up to your throat. If this occurs, the vomit brought up to your throat could then find its way to your lungs which would cause you to have a hard time breathing. Not only would this affect your breathing, but this could also damage your lungs. Typically you will be instructed not to drink 8-12 hours prior to your surgery. These important instructions will be given to you the day you schedule your procedure. It is vitally important for you to remain NPO (nothing by mouth) before your procedure. Remaining NPO will help ensure your safety during your surgery.
The Importance of Following Pre and Post op Instructions
You don’t have to worry - we will provide you with all the information you need before and after your surgery. You will be provided with clear, detailed instructions for what to do and what not to do pre and post-surgery. Our doctors and technicians will go over the details of your procedure and answer any questions you may have. The doctor will also provide you with pre and post op instructions that sometimes includes what eyedrops to take, required head positioning, or activity restrictions and will explain what you can anticipate before and after surgery. It is very important you follow all instructions provided to you. These instructions were made to keep you safe during and after your surgery. Following these key post op instructions are also requisite to your recovery.
The physicians and staff at Tennessee Retina want to make sure you're comfortable and confident in your healthcare. If you get home and lose important paperwork concerning details about surgery, please don’t hesitate to call with any questions. We will connect you with a surgery scheduler or technician that is happy to answer all your questions. Tennessee Retina physicians are dedicated to providing each patient with compassionate care and state of the art surgery. Thank you for entrusting us with your care!9 Explore more about eye conditions and surgeries in our learning center. Treatment & Diseases of the Retina