Anesthesia: Before You Receive Anesthesia

Anesthesia: Before You Receive Anesthesia

You are scheduled for surgery. You'll receive medication called anesthesia to keep you from feeling pain during the surgery. This sheet explains steps you may need to take to prepare for anesthesia.


Your doctor may send you to have certain tests before your procedure. These may include:

  • Blood tests. These help show how anesthesia may affect you.
  • Electrocardiography (ECG or EKG). This helps show how your heart is working.
  • Chest X-ray. This image helps show the health of your heart and lungs.


In the weeks before your surgery:

  • Tell your doctor and anesthesia provider what medications you take. This includes aspirin, other over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and vitamins. Be sure to mention if you take illegal drugs (this will be kept confidential). Giving this information helps ensure your safety.
  • You may be told to change certain medications you take. Or you may be told to stop taking medications for a certain amount of time.
  • Mention how much alcohol you drink and if you smoke. Also mention whether you're allergic to any medications.

Other Preparations

  • You may be told to stop eating or drinking for a certain amount of time before the surgery. This is often 8 hours. Do not eat or drink anything, including water, during this time. (If you have been told to take any medications before the surgery, take them with small sips of water.)
  • If you don't talk to your anesthesia provider before surgery, you will meet the day of the procedure. He or she will explain your anesthesia and answer your questions.
  • Arrange for an adult family member or friend to drive you home after the surgery.

Be sure to follow all your doctor's instructions. If you don't, your procedure may have to be rescheduled.