Fasting Before Surgery Is Actually Bullsh*t, and Has Been for a While

Why be hangry AND dismembered, people?

September 11, 2017 9:00 am

The hive mind is funny. Sometimes we learn something and it just sticks for the rest of our lives, even if it’s wrong. My better half’s mother — bless her — is still convinced margarine is better.

Another commonplace piece of misinterpreted and widely propagated advice: always fast before a surgery. Because according to a growing body of studies and research, the opposite could be true.

As Slate’s Marina Kamenev explains, “research says that there are definite clinical consequences. For one thing, from the perspective of staff, patients are more irritable after fasting.”

So why do we do it? Ether, basically. Earlier, cruder forms of anesthesia could be wildly unpredictable, and often caused vomiting and other adverse symptoms in patients. So doctors told folks to come in with empty stomachs, and that habit became engrained in our collective consciousness.

The reason we no longer need to do it? We don’t use ether anymore. Anesthesia has evolved, as has our understanding of dosages.

Kamenev also makes the unsettlingly obvious point that a fed and hydrated patient is not only easier to IV, but also altogether more agreeable, which can in turn reduce the amount of anesthesia necessary.

Also, why add insult to injury? You’re already going under the knife, whether elective or not. You need to be properly rested and nourished to heal.

Now ya’ know. Pass it on.

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