Surgical patients undergo an extensive preparation process prior to their operations. Part of this process involves putting an intravenous line, or IV, into the patient’s arm or top of his or her hand.

However, if you have never before undergone surgery, you might wonder why an IV is necessary and what its insertion in your vein entails. You can prepare yourself for your operation better by understanding the purpose that an IV before or during surgery serves.

Hydration

One of the more important purpose that a surgical IV services involves keeping you hydrated. Before surgery, you cannot eat or drink anything for at least eight hours before the operation starts. During that time, you naturally may become thirsty and want to drink water.

However, water or food in your stomach puts you at risk of aspirating and choking during surgery. Rather than put you at such risk, your doctor will order an IV to be started before the operation. You will be given saline water through the IV to keep you hydrated without endangering your breathing while you are under anesthesia.

Sedatives

The IV also allows your surgical team to administer sedatives to you prior to the surgery. Rather than have you take a pill or swallow liquid medication to make you sleep, they will give you sedative medication through your IV. It will cause you to relax significantly before the operation begins and also help you remain asleep until the surgery is over.

After you are asleep, you will also be given additional medications to keep you under sedation while likewise minimizing any discomfort that you may feel when you wake up. You can expect to have the IV remain in place for several hours if not a day or longer after you wake up from surgery.

Antibiotics

If you require antibiotics during or after your surgery, they will be started through your IV. The initial doses will be given to you intravenously. After you are able to swallow and keep down water and solid foods, you could be switched over to oral antibiotics.

However, the doses given through your IV could be stronger than any oral dose that you receive. They ensure that you do not catch an infection that can endanger your recovery and your subsequent health.

How an IV is Administered

If you have never before had an IV, you could be nervous about what is involved in getting it into your vein. In fact, the actual process involved with putting in an IV is only mildly and briefly uncomfortable. After it is in your hand or arm, you typically cannot feel it.

To find the best place to put in an IV, your surgical nurse will examine the veins in both of your arms and the tops of your hands. After he or she finds a good vein, the nurse will clean off your skin with rubbing alcohol. This ensures that no bacteria are introduced into the line and your blood where they can cause a dangerous infection.

Once the area where the IV is cleaned off, the nurse will use a thin plastic needle to insert into your vein. The plastic needle allows the actual IV line to go directly into your vein. Once it is in place, the nurse will remove the plastic needle and tape down the IV line to secure it in your arm or hand.

After your line is taped down, you can the expect the nurse to attach the IV to a saline drip. The drip will remain running for as long as you cannot eat or drink foods or beverages. Even after the drip is turned off and removed from the line, however, your IV port may remain in place so that you can be given additional medications or so that a new drip can be started if you suffer any complications after your surgery.

An IV serves a host of critical purposes before and during your surgery. It allows you to remain hydrated and sedated while you are in the hospital. It also permits your healthcare team to provide you with antibiotics to help you avoid infections. Your IV may be removed hours after you are out of surgery and in recovery. Call us now at 205-352-9141.

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