Instructions Before Your Surgery

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This resource provides information about how to prepare for your surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK). Fill it out with your healthcare provider.

Your surgery is scheduled on: ____________________________________________

You will get anesthesia (medication to make you sleep) during your surgery. For this reason, it’s very important that you follow these instructions about which medications to take and when to stop eating and drinking. If you take the wrong medication or eat and drink too close to your surgery, your surgery will be delayed or cancelled.

Instructions for Medications

Talk with your doctor or nurse practitioner (NP) about all of the medications you’re taking, including prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, patches, and creams.

10 days before your surgery, on _________________________________________

  • Stop taking vitamin E.

7 days before your surgery, on ___________________________________________

  • Stop taking aspirin, if your doctor told you to.
  • Stop taking herbal remedies and other supplements.

2 days before your surgery, on ___________________________________________

  • Stop taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

The morning of your surgery, on ________________________________________

  • Take the following medications:
    • ________________________________________________________________
    • ________________________________________________________________
    • ________________________________________________________________
    • ________________________________________________________________
  • Stop taking the following medications according to your doctor or nurse’s instructions:
    • ________________________________________________________________
    • ________________________________________________________________
    • ________________________________________________________________
    • ________________________________________________________________

For more information about taking medications before your surgery, read our resources Common Medications Containing Aspirin and Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and Herbal Remedies and Cancer Treatment.

You can find them by searching on our website,, or you can ask your NP.

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Instructions for Eating and Drinking

A clerk from the Admitting Office will call you between 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm the day before your surgery. If you’re scheduled for surgery on a Monday, you will be called on the Friday before. If you don’t receive a call by 7:00 pm, call 212-639-5014.

The clerk will tell you what time you should arrive at the hospital for your surgery.

12 ounces of water

  • Do not eat anything after midnight the night before your surgery. This includes hard candy and gum.
  • Between midnight and up until 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, you may drink a total of 12 ounces of water (see figure).
  • Starting 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, do not eat or drink anything. This includes water.
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Contact Information

If you have any questions or concerns about your medication instructions, talk with a member of the Presurgical Testing team. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm at 212-610-0488.

After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, contact your doctor’s office. If you’re not sure how to reach them, call 212-639-2000.

The NP you saw today was: _________________________________________________

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