Day of Surgery

What to Expect on the Day of Surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital

On the day of your surgery:

  • You may take your regular medication (unless your surgeon or preoperative nurse told you otherwise). Take these medications as directed, with only small sips of water.
  • If you are diabetic, follow your doctor's guidelines about your insulin.
  • Do not have anything to eat or drink.
  • Do not chew gum or tobacco, smoke, or eat mints or hard candy. Shower and wash your hair. You may brush your teeth but do not swallow water.
  • Remove any makeup before surgery. During surgery, we will check your circulation by looking at your skin, so it should not be covered by makeup.

Arriving for your surgery

Please arrive at the surgery site as instructed by your surgeon's office or the pre-op nurse. If you were not given a specific arrival time, please arrive two hours before the time of your surgery.


Parking is available for patients and guests in:

  • Parking A at 222 E. Huron Street, across from the Galter and Feinberg pavilions or at 223 E. Superior St., across from Prentice Women’s Hospital. Recommended for patients having surgery at Prentice or Same Day Surgery. Recommended for all patients who have a planned hospital admission after their surgery.
  • Parking B located within the facility at 259 E. Erie Street, self-parking is accessible from the driveways on both Erie and Ontario streets. Recommended for patients having same day surgery at the Lavin Family Pavilion.
  • Parking C and D – Erie/Ontario at 321 E. Ontario Street between Erie and Ontario streets, a second-floor bridge connects it to the Lavin Family Pavilion.

For additional information about parking:

Pre-surgery preparation and visitors

Once in the pre-op room, we ask you to change into a hospital gown. You must also remove glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, dentures, hairpieces, jewelry/body piercings before you go to the operating room (OR). In preparation of surgery:

  • The nurse will review your medical history and take your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and weight. Be sure to tell the nurse the exact time you last had anything to eat or drink.
  • We will place an IV line in your hand or arm so we can give you fluids and medicines. Based on your specific needs, antibiotics or other medicines may be given. To prevent blood clots, you may also wear sequential compression devices (SCDs). SCDs gently squeeze your calves every so often to copy the muscle movement that happens when you walk.
  • If you are a woman under the age of 60, we may perform a pregnancy test.
  • Your surgeon, anesthesiologist, or primary care doctor, as well as residents, nurse anesthetists, physician assistants and medical students may visit. (If you have already met with the surgeon and anesthesiologist, you may not see them before your surgery. If you do have questions for them, please ask your nurse.)
  • A member of the surgery team will:
    • Confirm the type of surgery you are having
    • Mark the surgery site (if needed)
    • Review the plan for anesthesia
    • Ask about any past problems you may have had with anesthesia

We make every effort to begin surgery at your scheduled start time but delays do occur. We will keep you and your family updated about any delays.

Before your surgery starts, your surgeon will tell you and your family how long your surgery is expected to last. Once you are in the OR and have received anesthesia, your surgery will begin.

Visitor guidelines

Visitor policies are in place to help ensure a safe, trusted and comfortable care environment for all patients, visitors, physicians and staff.

  • For non-COVID-19 patients, two designated visitors (18 years of age or older) may accompany you in the preop room/bay once your nurse has completed your preop assessment/interview. Visitors are not permitted in the immediate postoperative recovery area. However, your visitors will be notified when they can come and see you postop or when you have been moved to your inpatient hospital room (if planned/needed).
  • Visitors must remain masked at all times, including in the patient’s room. Visitors are not permitted to eat or drink in the patient rooms, as it would require periodic unmasking. Visitors who do not comply with the masking policy may be asked to leave.
  • The Surgery Family Waiting Area is limited to two designated visitors per patient. Visitors must remain masked at all times and maintain physical distancing guidelines while in the Surgery Family Waiting Area. Visitors may be asked to wait in another location than the waiting room if physical distancing requirements cannot be met.

If you will be admitted to the hospital after your surgery, please see Visitor Restrictions Due to COVID-19 | Northwestern Medicine for additional visitation policies in place at Northwestern Medicine