How to Prepare for an Operation

Preparing for an operation can be a confusing process. We hope the information provided here will help you get ready for your procedure. By informing yourself, you can help ensure that your preparation for surgery can proceed as smoothly as possible. If you have questions before your surgery, please contact a member of the Pancreas Center staff.

Do not eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your scheduled operation. This precaution is to prepare your body for the anesthesia. You may take your usual asthma, heart, blood pressure or seizure medication with a small sip of water that morning, unless otherwise advised by your surgery team. Make sure to read the Medication Adjustments section below for further information about medications.

The Surgical Nursing Unit will call you between 12:00 and 3:30pm the day before your operation to confirm your arrival time. If they have not called you by 3:30pm, please call 212.305.0973.

During the weeks leading up to your surgery, several things will need your attention:

Preoperative Testing

Federal and state guidelines, as well as sound medical practice, dictate that you have tests of your vital processes prior to surgery. Though additional tests may be required depending upon your particular type of surgery and condition, the following are standard requirement for all surgical patients

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
  • Basic Metabolic Panel
  • EKG (for patients 40 years and older)
  • Chest X-Ray (for patients 60 and older)

Your blood tests and EKG must be performed within 14 days of the scheduled surgery date. Chest X-rays can be completed as early as 6 months ahead of time. Ideally, all tests should be completed about one week prior to your surgery date. We will help you schedule any tests you need on the same day as your preoperative evaluation with a Pancreas Center nurse practitioner to make things as convenient as possible for you.

Preoperative Evaluation

You will be scheduled for a preoperative evaluation with a Pancreas Center nurse practitioner about one week prior to surgery. The purpose of the pre-op visit is to ensure that you understand all pre-operative instructions, review what to expect in the weeks following surgery, and to give you the opportunity to ask any remaining questions you may have about your upcoming operation. 

During your preoperative evaluation, your Pancreas Center nurse practitioner (NP) will go over portions of your medical history that need to be addressed as well as identify or review any special needs you may have in the pre- or post-operative period. Your NP will also carefully review the medications you are currently taking as you may have to temporarily stop or substitute some of them. It may help to bring a copy of the medication list you created for your surgical consultation with you to help you through the conversation.

Standard medication adjustments (subject to confirmation with your NP) include:

  • Stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen and vitamin E for one week prior to surgery, unless otherwise directed by your doctor
  • If you are currently taking Coumadin, steroids, and/or insulin, you may need to adjust your dose or substitute another medication before surgery. Make sure to discuss this with your surgeon or NP before your operation.

During your preoperative evaluation, a member of the Pancreas Center may also talk to you about enrolling in one or more clinical trials currently open at the Pancreas Center. To learn more about our current clinical trials, click here.

Insurance Information

Please make sure that we have your latest insurance information including the name of your carrier, the name of the insured on the policy, the policy number, and the phone number we need to call to precertify tests and procedures. All of this information can be found on your insurance card. Be sure to call your insurance company to verify your benefits. It is important to keep in mind that precertification is not a guarantee of payment by your insurance carrier.


If you are working, you should expect to be out of work for one to two months following your surgery. It is important for you to alert your employer of your leave and make any necessary arrangements pertaining to your job. Any disability forms should be submitted directly to the Pancreas Center office after your operation. When you submit these forms, please make sure to clearly indicate where we should send the forms and by what date. Keep in mind that it will take roughly two weeks for our office to process and send your disability forms.

Hospital Accommodations

Depending on the type of operation you are having, you can expect to stay 3-10 days in the hospital after your surgery. Standard hospital accommodations are semi-private rooms, where patients share a room with one person of the same gender. In semi-private rooms, a patient's family and friends are only allowed to stay with the patient during regular visiting hours.

Deluxe hospital accommodations are available for those patients who prefer more privacy and comfort during their stay.

  • Private Room on Surgical Floor–These private accommodations are on the same floors as the regular rooms
  • The McKeen Pavilion–The hotel-like facility offers suites with tasteful and elegant decor and sweeping Hudson River views that include a visitor's sitting room with sleeper sofa and bathroom

In these rooms, family and friends can visit with patients for longer, and sometimes even spend the night with patients as they recover. It is important to note, though, that these accommodations are generally more expensive; these additional costs are not covered by most insurance carriers. If you would like to arrange for deluxe accommodations, please call the office of your Pancreas Center surgeon.