Preparing for Thoracic Surgery

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Swedish Thoracic Surgery / First Hill

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"What to Do" Before Surgery

Smoking Cessation

Smoking irritates your lungs and may prolong your recovery. If you are a smoker, you will increase your lung function and efficiency each day that you are smoke-free before surgery. We recommend that you stop smoking immediately or at least three weeks before your surgery.

Swedish offers a smoking cessation program that lasts for eight weeks and provides participants with education and coaching to help them successfully stop smoking. The program involves a comprehensive approach to care. It focuses on not only the medical issues related to smoking, but also on the emotional and stress-management issues that help people to become successful non-smokers for life.

Learn more about Swedish's smoking cessation program, including the five keys for quitting smoking.

Other Available Resources to Learn How to Quit Smoking:

  • The Tobacco Quit Line offered by the Washington State Department of Health. For more information, visit or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
  • Free one-hour workshops to learn how to quit smoking. Call 1-888-866-0843 for information about workshops in the Seattle area.

Maintain or Increase Your Physical Activity Before Surgery

  • General Exercise/Rehabilitation:  If you are participating in an exercise or rehabilitation program, you should continue this until you arrive at the hospital for surgery. Daily activity will help condition your muscles and make it easier for you to move after your operation. Walking is generally an easy and effective way to maintain your physical conditioning before your admission to the hospital.
  • Breathing Exercise: Breathing exercises are an important part of your recovery, especially after lung surgery. Deep breathing and coughing will help you to clear secretions after surgery and can help you relax before and after surgery.

If you develop a fever, a persistent cough, or discolored sputum (green or gold) prior to surgery, please call our office immediately.

Diet Instruction

  • Eat a balanced diet prior to surgery: You will be permitted to eat and drink up until midnight before your surgery date. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
  • Bowel Preparation: Some patients will be required to complete a bowel preparation prior to the day of surgery. Your surgeon will discuss this with you when scheduling your surgery. Detailed instructions will also be provided to you in writing at that time.


As much as possible, relax the day before surgery, spend time with your family and get a good night’s sleep.

"What NOT to Do" Before Surgery

Any medication that may cause bleeding will be stopped before surgery. Please be sure to stop taking these medications as directed by your surgeon or anesthesiologist.

1 Week Before Surgery

  • NO Aspirin
  • NO Plavix
  • NO Ticlid
  • NO All medicines containing aspirin such as Anacin, Excedrin, Fiorinol, Aggrenox and Alka-Seltzer

5 Days Before Surgery

  • NO Coumadin

2 Days Before Surgery

NO all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medications, which include:

  • NO Celebrex
  • NO Diclofenac
  • NO Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • NO Meloxicam (Mobic)
  • NO Nabumetone (Relafen)
  • NO Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, Anaprox)
  • NO Piroxicam (Feldene)

Discontinue all supplements at least 48 hours before surgery. If not dissolved properly, they can make your surgeon’s job more difficult. Some nutritional supplements and foods can interfere with anesthesia and healing and should be avoided for one week before surgery. The most common (but not all) include:

  • NO Vitamin E
  • NO Gingko bilboa
  • NO Fish oils
  • NO Couramin
  • NO White willow bark
  • NO Garlic extract
  • NO Onion extract
  • NO Ginger root
  • NO Ginseng
  • NO Nightshades (tomato, potato, pepper and eggplant)

For more information, you can call the Northwest Natural Health Specialty Care Clinic at Swedish at (206) 386-3015.

1 Day Before Surgery

  • NO Lovenox

Tylenol may safely used at any time as long as you follow the directions on the label.