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It is essential that you follow the

instructions given to you. This is for

your own safety and, if not followed,

could result in your procedure being

postponed or cancelled on the day.

NIL BY MOUTH – when to stop eating

and drinking prior to your procedure

The following is applicable if you are


general anaesthetic




the day of your admission:

You must not have anything to eat from

five hours prior to your admission time;

this includes chewing gum and sweets.*

• You can, and


, continue to drink

water up to one hour before your

admission time.*

• If you are diabetic, please discuss your

fasting times and medications with

your Consultant.

*This will ensure that you have been

fasting for the recommended time of

six hours for food and two hours for water,

prior to the time of your procedure.

If you are coming in for a very early

admission time, it is advisable to have

something to eat before going to bed and

get up early enough so you are still able to

have water before your admission time.

Bowel surgery

If you are having bowel surgery, you will

be given specific instructions by your

Consultant regarding bowel preparation,

diet and nil-by-mouth times – please

ensure you follow these instructions.


drink alcohol for at

least 24 hours before your admission, as

it will alter the effects of an anaesthetic

or sedation.


smoke on the day of surgery.

If you are having a local anaesthetic

You do not need to fast before your

operation or procedure so you may have

a light meal up to two hours before your

admission time.


Your Consultant will have discussed any

medications you may be taking and will

inform you if you should stop taking them

or continue as usual. If you are unsure,

please contact the Consultant prior to

your admission.

What if I’m coming in for a colonoscopy?

The preparation is different for

colonoscopy patients, as it is important

you have a clean bowel for the procedure.

Follow your Consultant’s fasting protocol. It

is important to remain adequately hydrated

throughout your bowel preparation, so

up to three litres of water is permitted.

However, you should stop drinking water

two hours before your procedure.


Instructions for your surgery

NIL BY MOUTH – when to stop eating and

drinking prior to your procedure

Important information

– when to stop eating and drinking prior to your procedure