1. 8217-General anaesthesia (narcosis) (EN)

General anaesthesia (narcosis)

You will be operated on soon. During this operation, you will be under general anaesthesia. This is also called narcosis. The anaesthetist will put you into a deep sleep so that you are unaware of the surgery. You will not wake up until the operation is over. To ensure that the operation runs smoothly, it is important that you read this folder carefully. You may not, for example, eat or drink before the operation. Sometimes it is also necessary to stop taking your medication.

No eating or drinking before the operation

Your stomach must be empty for the operation. If you eat, stomach acid is produced. Under anaesthesia, this stomach acid can enter the lungs which may cause pneumonia. To prevent this, your stomach must be empty for surgery. This means that you may not eat or drink from a certain time. If you do eat or drink before the operation, the operation cannot take place.

No eating or drinking before the operation. This means:

Up to 6 hours before the admission time you may have a light meal only. You can choose from:

  • 2 rusks/crackers with jam, no butter or;
  • 1 slice of bread with jam, no butter.

Up to 2 hours before the admission time you may only drink clear liquids such as:

  • coffee (without milk, sugar is allowed), tea, water, clear apple juice or uncarbonated lemonade;
  • you may not drink dairy products or broth.

In the diagram below on the left side, you can find the time you are expected at the hospital (this is your admission time). Behind it, you can see from which time you may no longer eat and also from which time you may no longer drink.

Table schedule for eating and drinking
Admission time
(this is the time you need to be at the hospital)
You may not eat from: You may not drink from:
08.00 02.00 06.00
09.00 03.00 07.00
10.00 04.00 08.00
11.00 05.00 09.00
12.00 06.00 10.00
13.00 07.00 11.00
14.00 08.00 12.00
15.00 09.00 13.00
16.00 10.00 14.00

Please note:
If you are admitted the day before your operation, you do not have to arrive with an empty stomach.

Can I take my medication before the operation?

If you are taking medication, the anaesthetist will discuss whether you can take it or if you must stop temporarily. If you take blood thinners, you may have to stop a few days before the operation. Your anaesthetist or the Thrombosis Service will tell you when to stop taking your blood thinners and when you can start again.

Shortly before the operation, we check if your health or medication use has changed. If your operation takes place at Isala Zwolle, you will receive a short list of questions on the day of your admission. If your operation takes place at Isala Meppel, we will call you one day before your admission.

The operation

You get painkillers about an hour before the operation. Then you are taken to the preparation room in the Operating Theatre where you are connected to various monitoring devices. You get an infusion in your arm to administer fluids and medication. When all these preparations are complete, you will be given the anaesthetic in the operating room.

During the operation, you are under anaesthesia and your whole body is anaesthetised. Because you are temporarily unconscious, you will be unaware of the surgery. You will also not remember anything about the operation afterwards. While you are under anaesthetic, the anaesthetist and the nurse anaesthetist monitor your breathing, heart rate and circulation.

After the operation

Intensive Care

After the operation you go from the operating room to the recovery room. Sometimes you have to stay in a special monitoring department for some time after the operation because you need intensive care. You usually know before your surgery if you will be taken to Intensive Care after the operation. If this is known beforehand, your doctor will discuss this with you.

Pain relief

Because it is important that you suffer from as little pain as possible after your operation, you will get pain relief. The anaesthetist and you have agreed on the type of pain relief you will receive. Below are the three types:

  • Medication
    During your admission, you can get pain relief in the form of tablets, suppositories or via an infusion.
  • PCA pump
    With a PCA pump, you can give yourself small amounts of pain-relieving medication. If you feel too much pain, you can press the button. PCA stands for Patient Controlled Analgesia.
  • Epidural
    For epidural pain relief, a tube is placed in the back. Pain-relieving medication can be administered through this tube.

Side effects and complications

  • Shortly after the operation you may still feel drowsy and occasionally drift off. This is normal. It takes a day for the anaesthetic to wear off. Your body will, however, need a few days to weeks to completely recover from the operation.
  • After waking from the anaesthetic, you may feel nauseous and may have to vomit. Ask for anti-nausea medication.
  • You may suffer from muscle pain and painful joints. This is because you were in the same position for the duration of the operation.
  • The breathing tube that was in your throat during the operation can cause a sore throat due to irritation. The sore throat will disappear within a few days.

Every operation can cause complications however carefully we do our work. You have a small chance of:

  • an allergic reaction to the medication;
  • damage to your teeth by the insertion of the breathing tube;
  • a pinched nerve in your arm or leg due to an unusual posture during the operation. This can cause tingling and loss of strength.

If in your case the anaesthetic involves special risks, the anaesthetist will discuss this with you.

Going home

After you have been under anaesthesia, your reflexes may be temporarily affected. If you are allowed to go home on the day of the operation make sure that you are not alone at home the first night after your discharge from the hospital. You may not drive home yourself. Make sure you have someone to take you home. You may also not operate dangerous machinery that day, and you should not make any important decisions.

Take it easy at home for the first 24 hours after the operation. Make sure you have enough painkillers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or diclofenac at home. Please also follow the instructions given to you by the doctor who operated on you.

It is quite normal that you will not feel fit for some time after an operation. This is not only because of the narcosis but also because an operation is a major event. The body must recover at its own pace.


If you have any questions, you can call:

Preoperative Examination
088 624 21 39 (available from Monday to Friday between 8:30 and 17:00)

If you can't make it, please let us know so we can make a new appointment.

Laatst gewijzigd 5 juli 2022 / 8217

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