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Why Shouldn't I Eat Before Surgery? Why Shouldn't I Eat Before Surgery?

You are often told "don't eat past midnight the night before your surgery" but perhaps only a few sips of water.  To better explain this to you, this is best said by the American Society of Anesthesiologists Guidelines on Sedation.

Fasting Protocol for Sedation for Elective Procedures:

The restrictions of foods and liquids is necessary to decrease the risk of vomiting during surgery.  The introduction of stomach contents into the lungs (pulmonary aspiration)  can result in very serious complications.  We closely evaluate every patient to determine the best techniques to use to prevent this occurence.  However, gastric emptying may be influenced by many factors, including anxiety, pain, abnormal autonomic function (e.g., diabetes), pregnancy, and mechanical obstruction.  Therefore, the suggestions listed do not guarantee that complete gastric emptying has occurred.  Unless instructed otherwise by your physician, pediatric patients should be offered clear liquids until 2 to 3 hours before sedation to minimize the risk of dehydration.

 Age Solids and Nonclear Liquids* Clear Liquids
Children 6 months to Adults 8 hours or none after midnight1 2 to 3 hours
Children younger than 6 months 4 to 6 hours 2 hours

* This includes milk, formula, and breast milk (high fat content may delay gastric emptying).
1 There are no data to establish whether a 6-­8 h fast is equivalent to an overnight fast before sedation/analgesia. American Society of Anesthesiologists Guidelines on Sedation ,

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