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Abdominal Surgery Pre-Operative Instructions


If you have questions about the surgical procedure that has been recommended for you, be sure to ask your surgeon. It is your right to be informed, and it is your responsibility to ask questions if there is something you do not understand. If a change in your physical condition occurs before surgery (such as a cold or fever), contact your doctor.

The Process

Before Surgery: You will need to have a preoperative physical exam by your primary or referring physician within 7 days of your scheduled surgery. You will be given instructions for cleansing the colon (bowel).

Day of Surgery: On the day of surgery, report to the admitting area to register. A nurse will take your vital signs (blood pressure, pulse and temperature) and go through a list of questions to ensure that you are ready for surgery. If your doctor or anesthesiologist requires a chest x-ray or EKG and these were not done as a part of your preoperative examination, you may have them done at the hospital. However, this may delay your surgery. Blood will be drawn and sent back to the laboratory for current test results. You may also be asked to give a urine specimen. Your family will be directed to the surgical waiting room and you will go to a preop room. The anesthesiologist will talk with you about options for anesthesia and pain control. An intravenous (IV) line will be started to prevent you from becoming dehydrated. It will remain in place for several days after your surgery until you are able to take liquids by mouth. Before you go to surgery, you may be given antibiotics through the IV to decrease the risks of infection after surgery. You will receive medication to relax you.

In the Operating Room: Once you are asleep, a catheter may be placed in your bladder to collect and record urine output. A nasogastric (NG) tube may be passed through your nose, down your throat and into your stomach. This tube removes secretions from your stomach that may cause post-operative nausea and vomiting. In most cases, the tube is removed before you wake up. The length of surgery varies from patient to patient and is determined by the general health of the patient and how complicated the surgery is.

After Surgery: Following surgery you will be taken to the recovery room. Your doctor will meet your family after surgery to discuss your condition.

Getting Ready For Surgery
To Prepare for Your Surgery

  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery; this includes water and chewing gum.
  • Continue to take medication as prescribed, but with only a sip of water. Do not take ibuprofen, aspirin or any medication containing aspirin for one week before your surgery.
  • Do not smoke after midnight the night before your surgery.
  • Do not wear any make-up, especially eye make-up.
  • Do not bring large sums of money, jewelry or credit cards.
  • If you wear contact lenses, bring their case.
  • Do not wear artificial nails or nail polish. Your nails are monitored during surgery to identify oxygen and blood circulation.
  • Bring a list with you of all your medications and their dosages.
  • Bring your insurance identification cards.

Commonly Asked Questions

Q: How long will I be in the hospital?
A: You will be in the hospital for approximately seven days.

Q: How much pain will I have and how is it managed?
A: The incision does cause pain. There are several alternatives to manage the pain: an injection, PCA (patient-controlled analgesic, where patients administer their own medication through the IV), and an epidural catheter (analgesic is administered through a catheter placed into the epidural space of the spinal column).

Q: What can I eat?
A: You will start taking liquids when the intestinal tract is functioning (you pass gas). Before then, you may be allowed to have ice chips. If you tolerate liquids for one to two days, you will receive solid food. Once you’ve returned home, you will be on a fairly regular diet.

Q: Will it hurt to move my bowels?
A: There should be no pain.

Q: How soon can I exercise?
A: You can walk and swim (in either a pool or lake) as soon as you want to, but there should be no upper body exertion for one month.

If your doctor is not available, a doctor on call is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including holidays. After hours, call any of our offices and the answering service will locate one of our doctors on call. In an emergency, try to contact us for advice before you go to the hospital. A telephone call may save you a lot of time, money and discomfort.

Abdominal Surgery Post-Operative Information