Phone: 973-940-3166
Fax: 973-940-3170
Billing: 570-386-2366

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Prior to Surgery


The following are four frequently-asked questions (FAQs) by patients preparing for most types of outpatient surgery. At Specialty Surgical Center, we provide outpatient surgeries to treat diverse medical conditions requiring surgical correction. While the instructions for surgery preparation are mainly specific to that type of surgery, there are some general commonalities to any outpatient surgery preparation (as addressed below).

Question 1 – Why Can’t I Eat or Drink Right Before Surgery?

Surgeries usually involve the provision of anesthesia to lessen pain, and anesthetization enables the surgeons to perform the surgery without unplanned patient movement during the operation. The chief reason that patients are advised not to eat or drink anything for a specified period of time prior to surgery is so that regurgitation and aspiration of food particles in the digestive system will not occur.

Under anesthesia, the ability to “cough up” anything in the throat and esophagus is typically rendered impossible due to temporary muscle paralysis. Consequently, undigested food particles can end up in the windpipe traveling to the lungs – and thereby lead to aspiration pneumonia.

However, patients are often able to take medication with sips of water prior to arriving for surgery – so it is important to follow the specific pre-surgery instructions provided to you.

Question 2 – What are Three Different Administration Routes for Local Anesthesia?

Some standard ways that local anesthetic administration occurs are as follows (per

  1. Topical anesthesia (placed on the skin surface); often used in the cosmetic removal of skin moles.
  2. Subcutaneous anesthesia (injected below the skin surface); often used for minor skin procedures.
  3. Regional anesthesia (including intravenous [IV], epidural, spinal, and peripheral nerve block anesthesia).

Anesthesia drugs provided via an intravenous route often have a more rapid impact as compared to administration by other routes. For this reason, intravenous anesthesia administration is often utilized in outpatient surgeries.

Question 3 – What Does an IV Do (and is This Necessary)?

Besides enabling administration of anesthesia directly into the bloodstream, an intravenous tube (IV tube) can also be used for administration of normal saline. An isotonic saline infusion is typically used to treat dehydration and maintain a normal electrolyte balance. Another reason for insertion of an IV prior to surgery is for the provision of painkillers after the operation.

Question 4 – Can I Drive Myself Home after Surgery?

Outpatient surgeries that require any form of anesthesia can decrease your reaction reflex time,which can make driving hazardous. Therefore, patients are typically not allowed to drive themselves home following surgery. Depending upon the type of anesthesia-involved procedure conducted as day-surgery, you may be able to take a taxi to your home (as long as someone accompanies you).

However, it is preferable for you to have a family member or friend drive you to surgery and then home following a surgical procedure, since you probably will not be functioning at your customary level of alertness (and may also be experiencing some pain).

Prior to the day of your surgery at Specialty Surgical Center(and any outpatient surgical center), the patient registration process involves providing a detailed list of experienced health disorders and current medications. Completing this pre-surgical form is essential in order to prevent a negative complication during your surgery. Your written informed consent is also required for a surgery to be performed – whether in an outpatient (ambulatory) setting or in a hospital setting.

Specialty Surgical Center is located in Sparta, New Jersey, and our staff consists of board certified surgeons and anesthesiologists performing procedures in orthopedics, sports medicine, spinal care, podiatry, urology, pain management, ENT, hand surgery, lithotripsy, brachytherapy, GYN, and laser surgery.

For more information about Specialty Surgical Center, call 973-940-3166 or visit our Contact Page.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.