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Preparing for Surgery | Overview

Should I keep taking all of my medications?

Tell your surgeon about all of the "over the counter" medications and prescription medication that you are taking regularly or occasionally. Your surgeon will discuss whether or not you need to reduce or stop taking any medication before your operation.

How does the bowel get cleaned out to prepare for surgery?

Before the surgical procedure it is very important that your bowel is cleaned out to minimize the risk of an infection. You will receive specific written instructions to help clean out and prepare your bowel before the operation. A nurse or nurse practitioner will contact you a few days before your surgery to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Three days before the surgery, you will start a low fiber diet. Two days before surgery you will begin a clear liquid diet and continue that until you come to the hospital the day before surgery for a bowel clean out.

See our "Bowel Preparation for Surgical Patients" Family Education literature for more information.

What To Expect On The Day Of Your Surgery  

What to expect

Pre-admission brochure
For directions, accommodations information, tips on what to bring and more.

Welcome packet

Information on hospital services, neighborhood activities, a who's-who glossary and special section for teenage patients.

Before Your Surgery

You will receive a call the day before you are to come to the hospital from the Admission Office (Monday - Friday). They will tell you what time to come to the hospital.

Day of admission to the hospital

The day you/your child are admitted to the hospital, you will need to go to the Admitting office (located in the Main Bldg., Floor 1) to get a hospital card, name band and fill out some paperwork. You should expect to be in admitting for approximately 15 minutes.

After you are finished in the admitting office, you will go directly to your assigned unit.

Arriving on the Unit

You will be given a tour of the unit (nursing station, unit kitchen, activity room, and linen cart.) You will also meet with your surgeon or a member of the surgical team to talk with you and your family about surgery, answer any questions you may have and sign consent for the surgical procedure.


A member of the Anesthesia Department will meet with you and your family to take your history, perform a physical examination, discuss the plan for anesthesia and answer any questions you may have. You will be asleep under general anesthesia for this procedure. Your vital signs will be fully monitored throughout the surgery and a nurse anesthetist, an anesthesia resident or attending will be at your side throughout the procedure. The surgery requires insertion of a breathing tube while you are asleep, and additional intravenous (IV) lines. Your parents will need to sign a consent form for anesthesia to be given.

Getting Ready for Surgery

A nurse will place a long, thin, flexible tube called a nasogastric tube (NGT), down one nostril and slide it down into the stomach for the bowel cleansing solution to be given. They will tape it onto your face to hold it in place for the next few hours until the installation of the solution is finished. An IV will be placed to give you fluids and maintain hydration during the GoLytely bowel "clean out." You will also receive an antibiotic.

Blood Work

A nurse will try to get a blood specimen for "pre-op blood work" at the time the IV is placed. If they are unable to get enough blood, a separate blood drawing procedure will need to be done.

Eating and Drinking

You will not be able to eat or drink after midnight in preparation for the surgery and anesthesia the next day.

You will not be able to drink the morning of your surgery.

The Operating Room

You will go down to the pre-op holding area in your hospital bed. Your parents can go with you. You will met with a member of the Department of Anesthesia and your surgeon to answer any other question or concerns you may have. Your parents will meet with the "Liaison Nurse" who will talk with them during the operation to update them on your progress while you are in the OR. A nurse and anesthesiologist will roll your bed into the operating room. 

What To Bring To The Hospital  

  • comfortable pajamas
  • underwear/boxers
  • slippers/slide on flat sandals
  • books or magazines
  • CD or MP3 player with headphones
  • video games or movie videos
  • favorite objects such as stuffed animal or blanket
  • toiletries, including toilet paper...yes, toilet paper. (Hospital toilet paper is not known for its softness.)