It's safe to keep drinking fluids until shortly before surgery: Utrecht study
People who undergo surgery at UMC Utrecht may continue drinking until just before the procedure. Over the past years, the hospital conducted research into adjusting the guideline and recently concluded in a scientific publication that it is safe to do so. According to the University Medical Center, it is the first hospital in the world that allows patients to continue drinking until just before surgery.
According to the applicable guidelines, people should stop drinking two hours before an operation, explained Marije Marsman, an anesthesiologist at UMC Utrecht. Stomach contents can end up in the lungs during anesthesia. Those rules for children have already been adjusted. Children quickly feel unwell if they don’t consume fluids and sugars for extended periods, said Marsman. They can therefore continue to drink until just before the surgery. “Adults are not very different from children,” the Utrecht doctors concluded.
UMC Utrecht changed its working method in 2019, allowing adults to continue consuming fluids until just before surgery. In the following years, the hospital collected data from about 16,000 patients. They found it safe to do so since fluids quickly leave the stomach. And patients feel better after surgery, said Marsma. She compared surgery to running a marathon. If you take in a lot of carbohydrates beforehand, you will be less exhausted.
She stressed that patients could drink clear fluids, but eating shortly before surgery remains out of the question. Getting solid food into your lungs is even more dangerous than getting a liquid, said Marsman. Broths are also not a good idea because they contain fat. Marsman advised patients to drink lemonade with sugar. “People then ask: but sugar is bad for you, isn’t it? But you really need those sugars for surgery.”
Reporting by ANP