Coming in for your operation - preparing for your surgery and anaesthetic

What should you bring with you?

  • All inhalers or medicines that you are currently taking.
  • Glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids or dentures if applicable.
  • Xrays if appropriate.
  • A book or something to do.
  • Walking aides – labelled with name.
  • A pen to fill out menus etc.
  • Your mobile phone & charger.
  • Games or laptop & charger if you wish.

If staying overnight please bring in your basic toiletries, non-slip slippers or shoes, dressing gown and something to wear each day. We encourage our patients to get up, get dressed and get moving daily to help with recovery.
Please note Taranaki District Health Board does not accept responsibility for loss or damage to personal property.

Who should come with you?

We encourage all patients to be accompanied by a responsible person. Due to privacy of other patients we ask that only one support person come with each patient.

If you are breastfeeding you may bring your baby, but please arrange someone to take care of them while you are in surgery. Please let us know as soon as possible.

Things to consider before coming in for your surgery

  • Cook and freeze extra meals to have ready after discharge.
  • Get in extra groceries. Find out which supermarkets will deliver if you are unable to drive.
  • Place items you use frequently handy, and at a suitable height.
  • Have a clothes rack handy if unable to use the clothes line.
  • Your risk of falling is increased after surgery. Please make sure you move any items like cords, cables or clutter so you can move freely around your home after surgery.
  • For day surgery we ask that someone stays with you on your first night at home, for some surgeries it may be helpful for someone to stay with you for longer.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you to your appointments.
  • Taranaki DHB has a smokefree policy onsite and throughout hospital grounds. To minimise withdrawal from nicotine, nicotine patches are available free for the duration of your hospital stay. If you need to stop smoking, please contact your GP or Quitline (0800 778 778) or www.quit.org.nz

If you live alone

  • Organise the care of pets.
  • Cancel paper delivery and someone to collect your mail.
  • Organise a gardener and lawnmower if required.
  • Ensure household accounts are in order.
  • Notify home services of your admission if applicable.

Preparing to come for surgery

A nurse will phone you the day before to confirm the time of your arrival to the hospital and to give you any additional information. This will include:

  • When to stop eating and drinking (this includes chewing gum, lozenges, sweets and milk).
  • Which medications to take and which medications to stop.
  • Any other instructions specific to your surgery.
  • An opportunity to ask any questions you have.

Anaesthetic information

You are shortly going to be having an operation and will probably have an anaesthetic of one or more types whilst in the operating theatre. The type of anaesthetic you receive will depend on the nature, site and duration of the surgery.



The main types of anaesthesia that can be used either on their own or in combination are:

General anaesthesia
This describes a state of carefully controlled unconsciousness, which is monitored throughout the procedure to ensure that you will be unaware of what is happening around you until the end of the operation. This unconscious state may be achieved by an injection into a vein or breathing the anaesthetic gas from a mask.

Regional anaesthesia
This is the blocking of a nerve with local anaesthetic causing the area of your body where the operation will take place to go numb. You will be awake but free of pain. To make things more pleasant the anaesthetist may inject a drug to make you feel relaxed and drowsy. Examples of this type of block are epidurals for labour and a spinal for prostate surgery.

Local anaesthesia
This is the injection of a local anaesthetic at the site of surgery to cause numbness. You will be awake but feel no pain; this is like having a filling at the dentist.

Monitored sedation
Your anaesthetist will use a special range of drugs to keep you comfortable and sleepy but able to respond to questions if needed.

Side effects
Some side effects are common and may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A sore throat
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Bruising at the injection site.

Most side effects can be easily treated with simple medication.

The anaesthetist

Your anaesthetist is the doctor who will look after you while you are in the theatre area. Anaesthetists are specialists who undergo special training in anaesthesia, pain control, intensive care and resuscitation. They will be with you all the time and keep a careful watch to ensure your safety. A trained anaesthetic technician will help the anaesthetist and the recovery room nurses help you to wake up safely and pain free.

A doctor in training to be an anaesthetist may give your anaesthetic. There is always a fully qualified anaesthetist available to help if necessary.

What the anaesthetist needs to know and how you can help

Tell the anaesthetist anything that you believe may be important or useful. Don’t think that you are wasting time; it could turn out to be very important. Some examples of things that are important would be:

  • How healthy you are, if you have any recent illness or previous operations.
  • Any issues that you or family members may have had when having an anaesthetic.
  • Any past reactions to medications, or allergies of which you are aware affecting you or your close family.
  • Any history of asthma, bronchitis, heart problems or other medical conditions.
  • Any medications that you are taking at the moment including alcohol or non-prescribed medicines/herbal remedies.
  • Please bring any prescribed medicines with you to show to the doctor.
  • If you have any loose teeth, wear dentures or have caps/ plates or body piercings.

There are several things that you can do to help make your anaesthetic safer and easier:

  • Listen carefully to any instructions regarding food and drink, this is very important as vomiting during an anaesthetic can be dangerous.
  • Unless told otherwise take your usual medications with the minimum amount of water possible on the day of your operation.
  • Don’t smoke, ideally for six weeks before surgery but at least try not to smoke for 2 days before your anaesthetic.
  • If you feel unwell see your GP and explain that you will shortly be having an operation.
  • If you take aspirin ask the surgeon or anaesthetist if you need to stop taking it one week before your surgery.
  • If you have any questions or worries then let the doctors know.

Blood Transfusions

These are kept to a minimum but are sometimes essential for your safe recovery. All blood used today is carefully screened and tested but a very small risk of cross-infection still exists. If you are likely to need a transfusion a doctor will discuss it with you and let you ask any questions before you sign a consent form for transfusion.

On arrival to the hospital

Please arrive at the time given to you.

Give your name to the receptionist and then one of the nurses will prepare you for surgery/procedure.

They will take your blood pressure, pulse and temperature and ask some questions to make sure you are ready for the operation.

You will need to sign a consent form, if you haven’t already done this, which says you agree to have an operation and anaesthetic. Make sure you have been given a full explanation of the surgery and you understand what will be done before you sign the consent.

You will be seen by the anaesthetist who will consent you for the anaesthetic and answer any queries you have.

You may experience some waiting time before your surgery. Please be patient and bring in something to do while you wait.

After your surgery

You will go to the recovery room for a short time after your surgery or procedure where a nurse will be with you until you wake up. When you are awake and comfortable a nurse will return you to the ward.

Nursing staff will check on you regularly, recording your blood pressure, pulse and to check if you have pain and nausea, and your general wellbeing. They will also ask you if you have any pain or discomfort.

As soon as you feel able sips of water can usually be taken.

Some patients may feel sick after their operation – if this happens please tell a nurse as you will be able to have medication to help relieve this.

You may have an IV line in your arm to give you fluids and medicines.

After the operation you will be offered regular pain relief.

Please do not get out of bed without telling a nurse. Please ring your bell and feel free to ask for help if you need it.

Day surgery

One or two hours after the operation you will be able to get up, have a wash and get dressed in your own clothes ready to go home.

Please do not leave the hospital until you have received advice from the nurse and had your IV line removed from your arm.

You must be accompanied by a responsible adult who can drive you home and stay with you overnight.

Because you have had an anaesthetic or sedation this may impair your judgement and reflexes, for 24 hours after your surgery you must not:

  • Drive a car or operate machinery.
  • Make any important decisions.
  • Sign any legal documents.
  • Go home on public transport.

You must clearly understand what medications to take for pain relief and who to call if you have a problem.

You must clearly understand what medications to take for pain relief and who to call if you have a problem.

When you are ready to go home

Before leaving the ward make sure you have:

  • Written instructions on what to do after your operation.
  • Your medications/prescription.
  • Your phone and charger if you bought these in with you.
  • A follow up appointment may be needed. Your doctor will let you know if they want to see you again. This may be sent out in the mail. Otherwise see your GP as recommended for follow up.
  • A responsible adult to take you home and stay with you the first night after your surgery.
  • A certificate for time off work will be given if this is required – please organise this with the nursing staff as early as possible.

A discharge summary will be given to you and a copy sent to your GP so they know what has happened to you while you have been in hospital.

For enquiries about appointments and bookings

Please contact the Call Centre phone on 06 753 7743 / 0508 249 969 or email: bookingcallcentre@tdhb.org.nz
Note: If the phone is not answered, please leave a message and we will contact you within 12 hours during business hours.

More information

Last updated: Monday, July 12, 2021

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