Your Health: May 13, 2002

OPERATION STARVATION

When patients have elective surgery, they're often not just anxious but also famished. That's because in almost 90% of cases, according to a new study, they've been instructed not to eat or drink after midnight before surgery. What's wrong with that? Plenty. Three years ago, the American Society of Anesthesiology declared that prolonged preoperative fasting was no longer recommended. Fasting doesn't prevent vomiting or other complications, and it can lead to headaches, irritability and even dehydration. So what are the latest guidelines? Most people can eat a normal meal if the procedure is eight hours away, or a light...

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