Preparing for your Anaesthetic

There are lots you can do to ensure that you are back on your feet as quickly as possible after your procedure. Watch this informative video from the Royal College of Anaesthetists for some useful advice:

Did you know…?


Patients who give up smoking for just 3-4 weeks before surgery, can halve their risk of post operative complications.


The WHO (World Health Organisation) has set out guidelines for how much exercise we all should do to help maintain health. Click on the image below to find out more.


If you have loose teeth see your dentist for a review prior to your anaesthetic.

Starvation before Surgery

Experts disagree about the optimum time for starvation prior to elective surgery under anaesthesia. Please read these guidelines carefully prior to a general or regional (spinal/epidural) anaesthetic. Follow them and discuss with your anaesthetist in advance or at their pre-operative visit to clarify plans for your procedure. There is very strong evidence that over-long starvation has a deleterious effect on recovery after surgery. At all times our intention is to give you the highest quality care.

Morning lists with an anticipated start time of 8:30 am

Patients may eat until midnight.
Please drink a full glass of clear fluids on waking but not after 6:30 am.

Afternoon lists with an anticipated start time of 1.30 pm

Patients may have a light breakfast (toast or cereal) up to 7.30 am.
You are encouraged to drink clear fluids until 11.30 am.

Evening lists with an anticipated start time of 5.30 pm

Patients should eat a normal breakfast and have a light lunch up to 11.30am.
You are encouraged to drink clear fluids until 3.30 pm.

Please note:

‘Clear fluids’ means only the following: plain water, black tea or coffee (inc sugar) and diluted fruit squash.

The following are not permitted: milk in tea or coffee, fruit juices, alcohol, chewing gum and sweets.

Solids in any form (other than pills and tablets – which should be taken as normal with a sip of water as required, see below) must not be taken within six hours of the anaesthetic. Milk is considered a solid.

These guidelines apply to anaesthesia for all elective surgery.

Medications and allergies

Bring an upto date list of your medications with you to your pre-assessment appointment. The team will advise which medicines to avoid around the time of your operation.

Inform the pre-assessment nurses of any herbal or alternative therapies that you use. The team will advise you about taking these around the time of your surgery.

Serious reactions to anaesthetics

Very rarely, due to genetic factors, there can be a potentially fatal reaction to anaesthesia. If you or any blood relative has previously had a severe reaction to an anaesthetic please inform the team at your pre-assessment appointment.


Each hospital has its own procedures for keeping staff and patients safe. You will receive specific information from the hospital before you attend any appointment.

Information Sheets

The following link contains information sheets on a range of issues relating to your anaesthetic which you may find helpful.

RCOA patient information resources