6 Jul 2015

Liquid food before surgery 'could benefit patients'

11:49 am on 6 July 2015

An Australian anaesthetist says having liquid food before surgery could benefit patients more than the traditional practice of fasting.

Patients are usually advised not to eat before surgery because of the risk of anaesthesia-induced vomiting where patients can inhale stomach fluids.

Doctor David Rowe surveyed over 200 people who took a clear carbohydrate drink, two hours before surgery, and found it gave them more strength in the operating theatre.

"The patients feel better, it actually makes the anaesthetic safer because encouraging patients to drink a couple of hours beforehand actually dilutes the acid that the stomach produces all the time and and encourages it to empty.

"There is plenty of evidence within the literature to suggest that the healing time is actually shorter."

Doctor Rowe said he had spoken to anaesthetists in New Zealand and hoped hospitals would start allowing patients to consume calories before theatre.