Pre-operative fasting and administration of regular medications in adult patients presenting for elective surgery. Has the new evidence changed practice?

Eur J Anaesthesiol. 1999 Aug;16(8):565-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2346.1999.00542.x.


Several studies have demonstrated that pre-operative fasting may be as short as 2 h for clear fluids and 6 h for solids with no adverse effect on volume or pH of gastric contents. Other studies suggest that many patients do not receive pre-operative prescribed medications. One hundred and fifty-three adults presenting for elective surgery (mean age 51 years) were studied to assess fasting practice. Fasting times far in excess of the recommended safe minimum were found. Mean length of fast for solids was 15 h 24 min (95% confidence intervals +/- 49 min) and for fluids 12 h 30 min (95% confidence intervals +/- 30 min). Of the 53 patients taking regular medications, 23 did not receive one or more drugs pre-operatively; most notably 45% of cardiac prescriptions were not administered. Despite strong evidence to support a change, actual practice continues to fall below accepted standards.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Elective Surgical Procedures*
  • Fasting*
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / prevention & control
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Preoperative Care*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors