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Preoperative procedures are designed to improve the outcome of the surgery, decrease the risk for complications, and make the surgery as safe and effective as possible.

Patients who receive general anesthesia, which renders them unconscious, must refrain from eating or drinking for at least 8 hours before surgery. Most instructions indicate that nothing is to be taken by mouth after midnight, on the night before the procedure. It may seem harsh, not to be able to have a sip of water, but this precaution minimizes the risk for complications such as vomiting during surgery.

Discontinuing prescription and over-the-counter medications that “thin” the blood, such as aspirin is necessary prior to surgery. Whether a drug is held or administered is based on the patient’s medical condition, the type of drug, and the scheduled surgical procedure. Patients who take prescription medications on a regular basis must discuss this with the surgeon.

Preparation for surgery may begin days before the procedure. Surgeries involving the digestive system require special drinks, laxatives, and an altered diet. The digestive tract must be as empty as possible before surgery to prevent leakage of its contents into the abdominal cavity.