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Preparing for Surgery

Before Surgery

Whitehorse General Hospital's Pre-Operative Clinic prepares patients before their planned elective surgery. It gives you an opportunity to meet with a nurse, learn more about your procedure and get details about how to prepare for surgery and/or your stay in hospital.

Confirming your Surgery Date

After consulting with the surgeon, your surgery will be booked through the central booking office. You will receive a phone call or a letter by mail informing you of your surgery date/time, anesthetist, and the time of your visit to the pre-operative clinic. Please call the phone number provided as soon as possible to confirm your surgical date.

Where to Go

Register at the Surgical Services Registration desk in the Atrium of Whitehorse General Hospital. The Clinic is open Monday to Friday, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. It is closed on weekends and holidays. Remember to bring your health card with you when you register.

You may also have to visit the lab for a test.

What to Expect

When you arrive at the Pre-Op clinic, the healthcare team will review the following with you:

  • The time you need to arrive at the hospital the morning of your surgery
  • The length of surgery and approximate time of your discharge after the procedure
  • Any specific preparation for your surgery
  • Allergies and medication review – Please bring all of your medications and supplements in their original containers.
  • The dates of your COVID-19 vaccination
  • The person who will be your escort and contact post-surgery

At the end of the visit, you will be asked to sign an Informed Operative Consent and the nurse will witness your signature.

What to Bring

Please bring all your medications along with list of doses and times taken each day. A current pharmacy prescription print out would be ideal.

Instructions for the Day(s) Before your Surgery

Failure to follow these instructions may lead to the cancellation or postponement of your surgery.

  • Do not drink alcohol in the 24 hours prior to your surgery.
  • Do not eat solid food or dairy after midnight.
  • Do not take any medications, prescription or non-prescription, on the day of your surgery without your physician’s specific permission. Only take medications with a sip of water on the morning of surgery. If you take blood thinner or blood pressure medications, you will be instructed which medications to hold prior to surgery.
  • You may have clear fluids up to 2 hours before your operation time (unless you’re directed otherwise by anesthesia). Water, apple juice or black coffee/tea are allowed. You are asked not to have dairy products such as milk, cream or Coffee-mate, otherwise your surgery may be postponed.
  • Have a shower or bath the night before or the morning of your surgery (unless directed otherwise by the nurse).
  • Remove all jewelry, makeup, nail polish, contact lenses, prosthetic devices and tampons.
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Children may wear their own pajamas. Please bring an extra set of clothing and diapers for children.
  • You will need a ride home. Please arrange to have someone pick you up. You are considered impaired due to the medications provided in the surgery.
  • You are required to have an escort for 24 hours post-operatively only if you are having general anesthesia. If this is not arranged prior to surgery, this may lead to the cancellation of your surgery.
Fasting for Infants and Children who are Breast or Formula Fed
  • Do not feed your child any solids for 8 hours before surgery.
  • Do not feed your child formula or non-breast milk for 6 hours before surgery.
  • Do not feed your child breast milk for 4 hours before surgery.
  • Do not feed your child clear fluids (pedialyte, water, apple juice) for 2 hours before surgery
  • Please bring an extra set of clothing and diapers for children.
Day of Surgery (Surgical Day Unit)

On the day of the scheduled surgery, patients come to the Surgical Day Unit to be prepared for the operating room. The unit has 10 beds which are used for surgical patients. Please register at the Surgical Services Registration Desk located in the Atrium of Whitehorse General Hospital. Plan to arrive approximately 90 minutes before your scheduled surgery time.

What to Bring
  • Documents: Your health care card, travel forms, WCB forms, etc.
  • Personal: Your denture cup, contact lenses, hearing aids or glasses case
  • Equipment: Crutches (with spikes in winter), walkers, or CPAP machine (if used for sleep apnea)
  • Entertainment: Book, puzzle book, cell phone or tablet. Something to help pass the time as surgeries can be delayed due to emergencies
  • Clothes: Comfortable, loose fitting clothing, socks, and comfortable shoes with non-skid soles
  • Please leave all valuables at home. Be aware that you are responsible for the care and safety of your personal property while you are at the hospital.

You will be shown to a patient cubicle to prepare for your surgery.

  • You will be asked to change into a gown (with your undergarments removed).
  • We will measure your vital signs (blood pressure, temperature, heart rate and oxygen level), height and weight.
  • We will start an intravenous (IV) in your arm or hand, if ordered by the surgeon or anesthesiologist for fluid and medications.
  • Before going into the operating room, you may be asked to empty your bladder; and to remove any hearing aids, dentures, contact lenses, glasses and/or piercings.
  • You will wait in the Surgical Day Unit until the time of your surgery. You will be asked questions you may have already answered. This is to ensure we have the correct patient for the proper procedure. Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will see you here before the surgery.

You will be wheeled to the operating room on a stretcher or wheelchair.

  • When you are taken to the operating room, a nurse will stay with you to explain what is happening, answer any questions and offer support.
  • All staff in the operating room wear special clothing, caps and masks. The operating room has bright lights and a cool temperature. The special equipment, supplies and instruments have been prepared by the surgical staff.
  • The surgical team uses a safety checklist to keep you safe. Before we begin, we will re-confirm you are the right patient, verify the location of the surgery on your body, and we will perform a time out or briefing to review the procedure.
  • You will be monitored closely using vital signs placing heart monitor leads, pulse oximetry (monitors oxygen), and blood pressure cuff. Your surgery will begin after the anesthesiologist has administered your anesthetic.
After your Surgery

After your surgery, you will be taken to the Surgical Day Care Unit or the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) where you will be closely monitored.

  • You may still have tubes and monitors connected to you. You will be awake, but drowsy and in a dream-like state.
  • You may have a sore throat, headache or muscle pain.
  • Medications are available to control pain or nausea. Please inform the nurse if you have either of these symptoms.
  • The length of time you are in recovery room depends on the type of surgery and anesthetic.
  • It is common not to remember much from your time in the operating room or recovery.

If you are having day surgery, you will remain in the Surgical Day Unit until you are ready for discharge.

  • Be sure that you understand all the discharge and post-operative instructions you have been given.
  • Please consider all of your discharge needs, i.e. prescriptions, wound management, weight bearing status, equipment and follow-up.
  • You are required to have an escort for 24 hours post-operatively only if you have had a general anesthetic.


  • If you are being admitted to the hospital after your surgery, you will be transferred to your hospital room from the Recovery Unit. Your surgeon will discharge you when appropriate.