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The day of surgery

You will already have been told whether you are going as a morning or an afternoon case prior to the day of surgery. 


  • You will be given an antiseptic wash to shower with to get you clean for the operating room
  • If your normal skin bugs include any drug resistant bacteria, you will be given a few days of wash to use as well as a nasal ointment.


  • This is performed the night before surgery (or on the day if you are a same-day admission)
  • Please do NOT shave with a razor yourself - you will be given clippers to trim the hairs short, which has been shown to be the most effective way to prepare for an operation if done within a few hours of surgery 
  • You will be shaved around the chest and groin for most operations 
  • For CABG operations, you will need your legs and forearms shaved, too 
  • In addition, if you are having minimally invasive surgery, you will need your right armpit shaved 

Nil by mouth

  • From 6 hours before surgery it is important to stop eating and drinking - this is so that the stomach is empty and will not regurgitate food into your airway as you are being drifted off to sleep 


  • Sedation is being offered less often now as it may be associated with a more difficult waking period from anaesthesia. If you find yourself very anxious, please discuss this with your anaesthetist 
  • A medication to reduce stomach acid is often used before surgery
  • Forward wait 
  • You will leave your ward or the admission unit (Aspen Suite) either escorted by a nurse as you walk to the theatre reception area or on a trolley or chair with a porter. 
  • Your details will usually be confirmed by the staff in the forward wait area of theatres until the surgical team are ready to take you through 


The anaesthetic room 

  • Once you have been taken to the anaesthetic room, you will be transferred onto a firm bed (sometimes called a table) where you will then have a drip put into a vein on your hand
  • Another drip is inserted into an artery on your wrist or groin to measure your blood pressure 
  • A loose mask of oxygen on your face will help to get your oxygen levels up before you are sent to sleep 
  • An injection of sedative will then be given so that you quickly drift off to sleep
  • Once you are fully asleep, a tube is placed through your mouth and into your airway to put you on a ventilator. This will do the job of your breathing during the operation. 
  • Another big drip is usually put into the veins in your neck (called a central line) which allow drugs and fluids to be given directly to the heart 
  • A bladder catheter is also normally used to monitor how much urine your kidneys are producing. 
  • You may also have an ultrasound camera (called a trans-oesophageal echocardiogram or TOE) placed into the gullet which allows the inside of the heart to be looked at without opening it. 
  • Other monitoring equipment will check to make sure you are stable and asleep before the operation starts