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Why should you not eat or drink before surgery?

If you have ever been scheduled for surgery in Providence County, then you likely remember being told by your surgeon to not eat or drink anything for 24 yours prior to your procedure. Some may tell you that this is unnecessary and that it is only requested in order for providers to avoid liability. Yet in reality, there are clinical reasons for not eating prior to surgery. One reason is to help decrease the chances of you feeling nauseous and vomiting after your procedure, which could cause sutures to tear. Another reason is to help avoid infections. While these may be viewed as minor complications, one major problem can arise from eating before surgery.

If you are placed under general anesthesia, then the possibility exists for you to vomit your stomach contents while you are still feelings its affects. The fact that you are also intubated while under anesthesia greatly increases the risk for you to inhale your vomit, which is known as aspiration. This results in gastric fluids and other materials going into your lungs, leading to a condition known as aspiration pneumonia. Not only can this make it extremely difficult to breathe, but it can also lead to serious infections.

Aspiration can lead to death. Study results shared by the National Institutes of Health highlighted the causes of fatal aspiration cases. Depressed consciousness (like the state you are in while under anesthesia) was the most common cause.

This is why it is imperative that your doctor remind you not to consume any foods or liquids prior to surgery. Even if you are not scheduled to receive general anesthesia, yet the potential exist for you to need it should complications arise, he or she should take this into account and issue you the same caution. 

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Providence Personal Injury Office

199 North Main Street
Providence, RI 02903

Toll Free: 888-876-9415
Phone: 401-354-7233
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