General anaesthetics inhibit the protective reflexes that stop the stomach contents reaching the lungs. In order to prevent the inadvertent inhalation of stomach contents, children are often advised to have nothing to eat or drink from the midnight before surgery. However, the review of trials found that drinking clear fluids up to a few hours before surgery did not increase the risk of regurgitation during or after surgery. Indeed there is an added benefit of a more comfortable preoperative experience in terms of thirst and hunger. Some children are considered more likely to regurgitate under anaesthetic, including those who are obese or have stomach disorders. More research is needed to determine whether these children can also safely drink up to a few hours before surgery.
- pre-operative fasting
- general anaesthetics