The day of the surgery

Here we provide a general overview of what may happen on the day of the surgery. Procedures vary between hospitals and according to whether you have surgery as an inpatient or outpatient.

Learn more about:


Admission and preparation

The hospital will give you a time to arrive, called the admission time. Arriving earlier doesn’t mean you’ll be admitted or have surgery sooner. When you’re admitted, you might not know the exact time of the surgery, but you’ll probably know if it will be in the morning or afternoon. Sometimes there are unexpected delays due to emergencies – the receptionists and nurses will keep you informed.

Before you go to the operating theatre, a nurse will:

  • review your medical history and whether you have any allergies
  • place an identification band around your wrist or ankle
  • check your blood pressure, pulse and weight
  • ask when and what you last ate and drank.

You will change into a surgical gown and put your personal possessions in a bag for storage or to give to your support person. If the surgery is to a part of your body with hair, it will be shaved unless you have already done it yourself. Some people are given a sedative (premedicine or premed) as an injection or tablet to relax them.

Let the nurse know if you think you have a cold or the flu, so they can assess your fitness for surgery.


This information was last reviewed in April 2019
View who reviewed this content
View our editorial policy

Support services

Coping with cancer?
Ask a health professional or someone who’s been there, or find a support group or forum

Work and cancer
Information for employees, employers and workplaces dealing with cancer

Cancer information

Dealing with the diagnosis
Common reactions to a cancer diagnosis and how to find hope

Other cancer treatments
Learn about the other cancer treatments that are used to treat cancer

TOP BACK TO TOP