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Archive March 2019 XX, No. 3

Tell Your Patients to Drink Up

Pre-op nutrition beverages prepare patients' bodies for the rigors of surgery.

Joe Paone

Joe Paone


drink up

Sometimes overlooked in the world of surgery, particularly in the faster pace and turnover of the outpatient setting, is the need to prepare patients' bodies for the physical demands of an operation. After all, even the least invasive of surgeries and mildest of anesthetics inflict some degree of trauma or distress on the patient's body. On some level, great or small, surgery's a shock to the system.

Rejecting the time-honored "fast after midnight" approach, a growing number of doctors, industry organizations and experts believe that more rigorous and thoughtful pre-op nutrition — lasting from weeks before to just 2 hours before surgery — can help bodies not only accommodate the stresses of surgery, but heal faster, too. Here's a look at the latest science behind pre-op nutrition, as well as a roundup of beverages (see "A Bounty of Pre-op Nutrition Drinks" here).

Peak patient prep

David Evans, MD, is not only the medical director of trauma services at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, but he's also its medical director of nutrition services, and a widely cited expert on surgical nutrition. The co-author of a December 2013 paper, "Nutrition Optimization Prior to Surgery" (, published in the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition's (ASPEN) journal Nutrition in Critical Practice, he's representative of the evolving views on this subject. The first sentence of that paper's abstract captures his overall perspective: "Optimization of metabolic state prior to major surgery leads to improved surgical outcomes."

"You want to make sure that the immune system is well-fed, well-nourished and robust and able to heal the wound and fight off any potential infection," Dr. Evans tells Outpatient Surgery. To do that, your patient's nutrition levels should be at or near their peak. Especially needed are protein stores, the amino acids that build them, and the vitamins and minerals — like Vitamins C and B12 and zinc — that serve as cofactors and as the fuel for cells to heal, he says.

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