Why is it that before most types of surgery, people are told not to eat/drink (nil by mouth)?
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What Pauline said. Your body could vomit involuntarily. The vomit would cover your windpipe or go into it and you could suffocate. It could happen without doctors ever knowing.
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The short answer is in case you vomit whilst under the anaesthetic and inhale it into your lungs - serious stuff
Before major bowel surgery, or when there is a bowel obstruction, a naso gastric tube is aspirated at least every hour to prevent any build up in the stomach
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