Getting Ready for Surgery

This information contains instructions regarding your surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). Please review these instructions 2 days before your surgery.

2 Days Before your Surgery

  • Confirm you have someone to take you home
If you are going home the day of surgery you must have someone escort you home after surgery for your safety. Your surgery will be cancelled if you do not have an escort. Please call one of the agencies below if you do not have an escort. They will assist you in arranging for someone to take you home after surgery.
Partners in Care 888-735-8913
Caring People 877-227-4649

We recommend that you have someone to help at home for the first 24 hours after surgery.

  • Be sure you have a bottle of Hibiclens® (chlorhexidine) cleanser

If you were instructed to wash with Hibiclens® cleanser before your surgery, be sure you have purchased 1 bottle. Hibiclens® is a skin cleanser that you can buy without a prescription at any pharmacy. Some surgeries do not require you wash with Hibiclens®.

  • Be sure you have the bowel preparation kit prescribed by your doctor

If you were instructed to use a bowel preparation kit before your surgery be sure you have purchased it. Purchase plenty of clear liquids to drink during the bowel preparation. Review the fact card titled Clear Liquid Diet for examples. Some surgeries do not require you use a bowel preparation kit.

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The Day Before your Surgery

A clerk from the Admitting Office will call you after 2:00 pm the day before your surgery. He or she will tell you what time you should arrive at the hospital for your surgery. If you are scheduled for surgery on a Monday you will be called on the Friday before.

The clerk will tell you where to go on the day of your surgery. This will be either the Surgical Day Hospital or the Presurgical Center. If you do not receive a call by 7:00 pm, please call 212-639-5014.

If you need to cancel your surgery for any reason please call your surgeon.

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The Evening Before Your Surgery

  • If you were instructed to shower using Hibiclens®, do so using the instructions on the bottle. Hibiclens® is a skin cleanser that kills germs for 6 hours after using it. It will help reduce your risk of infection.
  • If you were instructed to use a bowel preparation kit, do so using the instructions given to you.
  • Follow any special instructions your nurse gave you regarding your diet.



  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery. This includes water, gum or hard candy.
  • Go to bed early.
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The Day of Your Surgery

  • Do not eat or drink anything the morning of your surgery.
  • Follow any special instructions your nurse gave you regarding your diet.



  • Your doctor or nurse practitioner may have instructed you to take certain medications on the morning of your surgery. Take only those medications with a sip of water.
  • If you were instructed to shower using Hibiclens®, open the bottle and pour some solution into your hand or a washcloth. Rub gently over your entire body from the neck down and rinse. Do not let the solution get into your eyes, ears, mouth, or genital area. Dry yourself off with a clean towel after your shower. 
  • Bring a list of all the medications you are taking, including patches and creams, with you.
  • Remove all jewelry, including body piercings.
  • Do not put on any lotions, creams, deodorants, makeup, powders, or perfumes.
  • Leave valuables, such as credit cards, jewelry, or your checkbook at home.
  • If you usually wear contact lenses, wear your glasses instead. Remember to bring a case for them.
  • Before you are taken into the operating room, you will need to remove your hearing aids, dentures, prosthetic device(s), wig, and religious articles (such as a rosary). 
  • Bring your Health Care Proxy Form with you if you, have completed one. Your health care agent is the person you have designated to speak for you if needed. Please make certain this person knows your wishes regarding health care in case there is an emergency. If you have an advanced directive or living will, bring it with you.
  • Generally, 2 visitors may stay with you as you await your surgery. A nurse will escort your visitors to the recovery room (PACU) when you awake from your procedure.
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Parking

Parking at MSK is available in the garage on East 66th Street between York and First Avenues. To reach the garage, turn onto East 66th Street from York Avenue. The garage is located about a quarter of a block in from York Avenue, on the right-hand (north) side of the street. There is a tunnel that connects the garage to the hospital. There are also other garages nearby: 4 on East 69th Street between First and Second Avenues, 1 on East 67th Street between York and First Avenues, and 3 on East 65th Street between First and Second Avenues. If you have questions about prices, call 212-639-2338
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Helpful Phone Numbers

Admitting

212-639-8349

Call the Admitting office to discuss private room or luxury suite options.

Bobst International Center

888-675-7722

MSK welcomes patients from around the world. If you are an international patient, call the International Center for help coordinating your care.

Anesthesia

212-639-6840

Call with questions about anesthesia (medications used to make you sleepy for your surgery).

Patient Representatives

212-639-7202

Call the Patient Representatives office if you have any questions about the Health Care Proxy Form, or if you have any concerns about your care.

Patient Financial Services

212-639-8242

Call Patient Financial Services with any questions regarding pre-authorization with your insurance company. This is also called pre-approval. Patient Financial Services can also help you with your billing or other insurance questions.

Private Duty Nursing

212-639-6892

Patients may request private nurses or companions. For more information call the Private Duty Nursing office.

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If you have any questions or concerns, talk with a member of your healthcare team. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at ____________________. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, please call____________________. If there’s no number listed, or you’re not sure, call 212-639-2000.

Getting Ready for Surgery
Printed on May 24, 2015, 6:14 pm