Author: Cardiac anesthesiologist
Most cardiac surgery (CS) programs mandate that a patient ingest nothing by mouth after midnight for surgery the following day, or at the very least, fast for 6 to 8 hours from the intake of a solid meal before elective cardiac surgery. Several randomized clinical trials have demonstrated, however, that nonalcoholic clear fluids can be safely given up to 2 hours before the induction of anesthesia, and a light meal can be given up to 6 hours before elective procedures requiring general anesthesia. Encouraging clear liquids until 2 to 4 hours preoperatively is an important component of all ERAS protocols outside of CS. However, no large studies have been performed in populations undergoing CS. The supporting evidence is extrapolated from populations having noncardiac surgery. A small study in patients undergoing CS demonstrated that an oral carbohydrate drink consumed 2 hours preoperatively was safe, and no incidents of aspiration occurred. Aspiration pneumonitis has not been reported, although this potential remains in patients undergoing CS who have delayed gastric emptying owing to diabetes mellitus, and transesophageal echocardiography may also increase aspiration risk. Based on the data available on CS, clear liquids may be continued up to 2 to 4 hours before general anesthesia (class IIb, level C-LD).