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Anesth Analg. 1998 Aug;87(2):306-11.

Should adult patients drink fluids before discharge from ambulatory surgery?

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Department of Anaesthesia, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


We studied 726 consenting patients to determine whether withholding oral fluids from adult ambulatory surgical patients before discharge would decrease the incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) and shorten the duration of stay in the ambulatory surgery unit (ASU). Patients were randomly assigned to the drinking or nondrinking group. Both groups received a standard regimen of general anesthesia, fluid replacement, and analgesia. In the ASU, patients in the drinking group were given mandatory oral fluids to drink before discharge. Nausea and pain were assessed by using a visual analog scale 15, 30, 60, 90, 105, 120, 150, and 180 min postoperatively. The time to drink, sit up, void, and ambulate, and the time until discharge were recorded. Patients were interviewed by telephone 24 h postoperatively. There was no significant difference in the frequency of PONV between the drinking and the nondrinking groups either in the hospital or after discharge. Patients in the drinking group required more time to begin ambulating (105 +/- 38 vs 98 +/- 34 min; P < 0.02) and to void (112 +/- 40 vs 105 +/- 37 min; P < 0.01). Patients in the drinking group also stayed in the ASU longer (85 +/- 49 vs 81 +/- 47 min; P < 0.03). Time to postanesthetic discharge was also significantly longer in the drinking group than the nondrinking group (106 +/- 40 vs 98 +/- 36 min; P < 0.015). A similar percentage of patients in both groups were "very satisfied" with their ambulatory surgical care. There was no difference in postoperative complications and need for medical help. Withholding early postoperative oral fluids facilitated earlier ambulation and decreased the stay in the ASU but did not decrease the incidence of PONV. Thus, in this ambulatory surgical population, there does not seem to be justification to require drinking before discharge.


To answer the question of whether adult outpatients should drink before discharge after minor surgical procedures, 726 patients were randomized to either drink approximately 150 mL of liquid or not to drink. Neither drinking nor nondrinking worsened postoperative nausea or vomiting or prolonged hospital stay. Therefore, patients should be allowed to choose whether they drink before discharge.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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