Why do I need to fast before anaesthesia?
Risks of Anesthesia in a Non-Fasted Patient: Failure to adhere to fasting guidelines before anesthesia can pose significant risks to the patient. One of the primary concerns is the potential for aspiration, where stomach contents may be inhaled into the lungs during induction of anesthesia or surgery. Aspiration can lead to serious respiratory complications, such as pneumonia, and compromise the patient’s respiratory function. Additionally, a non-fasted state increases the risk of regurgitation of stomach contents, posing challenges to airway management and potentially leading to complications like bronchospasm or airway obstruction.
Moreover, a non-fasted patient may be more prone to nausea and vomiting during and after surgery. This not only contributes to patient discomfort but can also elevate the risk of post-operative complications, including aspiration of vomitus.
Current Fasting Guidelines: The fasting guidelines before anesthesia aim to minimize these risks and ensure patient safety.
- Clear Liquids:
- Fasting for approximately two hours before surgery for clear liquids, such as water, clear fruit juices without pulp, black coffee, and tea without milk.
- Breast Milk:
- Fasting for about four hours before surgery for breast milk.
- Formula and Solid Food:
- Fasting for at least six hours or more before surgery for formula milk and non-human milk.
- Fasting for at least six hours or more before surgery for solid food, including light meals.
It’s important to note that these guidelines may vary based on factors such as age, medical condition, and the type of surgery. Always follow the specific instructions provided by your healthcare team.
Current official guidelines:
- American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA):
- The ASA provides guidelines on preoperative fasting. ([ASA Guidelines on Preoperative Fasting](https://www.asahq.org/standards-and-guidelines/guidelines-for- perianesthesia-practice/)).
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE):
- NICE offers recommendations on fasting before elective surgery. (NICE Clinical Guideline: Nutrition Support for Adults).