- VPS advice on fasting before ultrasound appointments
VPS advice on fasting before ultrasound appointments
Ultimate care decisions for patients remains with the primary care practice. However, we are
often asked for advice about fasting patients whom we are due to examine.
This is a bit of a minefield with very limited evidence on whether fasting for longer than a few hours is necessary…even for general anaesthesia, and that’s only very rarely necessary for sonographic procedures.
We don’t want to create confusion by contradicting practice policies. For a simplified rule of thumb, most of our team prefer all patients to be fasted from midnight, and that’s probably in line with what most practices are telling owners before most admissions. However, from our point of view, it’s not normally a problem if they’ve eaten a little bit -for example to give medications such as gabapentin. You can take into account the likely timing of the scan and the nature of the problem.
Exceptions to this are debilitated patients who need nutrition for recovery, pediatric patients and
those with special dietary requirements or risk of hypoglycaemia such as diabetics, insulinoma
patients, shunts etc. This does cover quite a lot of our scanning caseload: it may be wise to discuss specific cases with our team beforehand.
It’s important to say that we wouldn’t want you to delay scanning any urgent cases because
they’ve recently eaten. The need to sort out a pressing clinical problem will outweigh any
marginal considerations re fasting.
Same applies if you are presented on admission with a patient for sonography who has recently
eaten. Unless there’s a specific reason to think that general anesthesia is likely to be required
then we wouldn’t want you to inconvenience everyone by sending them away.