Before your surgery

As a Duke University Hospital surgery patient, you will receive excellent health care from a highly qualified team of professionals. We strive to protect your dignity during surgery and during your stay at Duke. Because you may be anxious about your forthcoming surgery, we have presented information that you will need to assist you through the surgical process.

Day before surgery

Please call the day before your scheduled surgery: 919-684-4718 or 1-800-382-6238, Monday through Friday, except holidays, between 4:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. for your surgical arrival time.

If surgery is scheduled on a day following a holiday, please call the day before the holiday. If your surgery is on Monday, please call on Friday for the surgical arrival time. You will speak with a registered nurse who will confirm your surgical arrival time to the Duke University Hospital.

The arrival time is the time you need to arrive at the Duke University Hospital to get ready for surgery. The nurse will ask where you are staying the night before surgery in case there is a need to contact you.


Please follow the instructions given to you by your surgeon or health team professional about your medication, skin care, and bowel preparations.

Instructions on eating and drinking before surgery

(for adults, 18 years of age and older)

Please note: Your surgery will be canceled if these instructions are not followed.

  • Do not eat anything after the midnight prior to your surgery.
  • Do not drink anything after the midnight prior to your surgery, except for sips of water to take your medications.
  • Only those patients specifically instructed by a doctor, nurse, or his or her designee may drink clear fluids after midnight.
  • Clear fluids are: water, sports drinks, sodas, clear tea, and black coffee (sugar allowed, but not milk or cream).

Call your surgeon's office or Duke University Hospital Perioperative Services at 919-684-4718 or 1-800-382-6238 if your health changes -- if you develop a cough, cold, fever, or chills, for example.

If your surgeon lets you go home the day of surgery, a responsible adult must drive you home and stay with you for 24 hours.

Things to remember the morning of surgery

  • Please leave all valuables (money and jewelry) at home. To prevent having your glasses, contacts, and dental appliances from being lost, please give them to the designated family member who accompanies you to the Preoperative Holding area.
  • You may prefer to take a bath or shower the morning of surgery.
  • Brush your teeth, but do not swallow the water.
  • No gum or hard candy.
  • Please do not wear any makeup, lipstick, fingernail, or toenail polish.
  • If you have long hair, braid it or tie it back with a rubber band. Hair should be free of sprays or gels.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
  • You do not need to bring pajamas -- patient gowns are provided.
  • When appropriate, bring crutches, walker, and CPAP machine.

Where to check In for surgery

  • Enter Duke University Hospital through the main entrance.
  • Walk through the main lobby to the elevators.
  • Take an elevator to the third floor.
  • Turn right when you exit the elevator.
  • Check in at the Pre-Surgery Information and Registration desk.

What to expect at check-in

  • You will need to sign in at the third floor Pre-Surgery Information and Registration desk.
  • Please bring a photo ID and a valid insurance card.
  • Due to the limited seating, only two visitors per patient ate allowed in the surgical waiting room at a time.
  • Courtesy beepers are available for family members who would like to leave the surgical waiting room for short periods of time. Please return the beepers to the Pre-Surgical Information and Registration desk so they will be available for other families.
  • A coffee machine is located in the surgical waiting room for those not having surgery.
  • When it is time for surgery, you will change into a hospital gown.
  • Glasses, contact lenses, and dentures must be removed before surgery.
  • The preoperative area can not be responsible for any valuables.
  • Please leave valuables at home or with a designated family member.

After surgery

After surgery, most patients are admitted to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). The PACU is a critical care unit providing care and treatment to patients recovering from the effects of anesthesia.

Patient visitation must be limited to safely provide patient care and confidentiality. Visitation in PACU is permitted only for parents of children under 18 years of age.

We encourage limiting visitors to 2 adults in PACU  with no switching of visitors in and out and for brief visits so the patient may rest.

To facilitate communication, PACU staff will inform waiting room staff of a patient's progress, room assignment, and other important updates. We would appreciate it if family members maintain communication with the waiting room staff.

It often takes 1-2 hours after the surgery is finished before the patient is able to have visitors. This should not be a cause for concern.

After your surgery, you will either be discharged or admitted to the hospital.


  • Valet parking is available Monday through Friday from 5:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. and weekends from 10:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. The fee is $7/day.
  • An hourly-rate parking garage is located across from Duke University Hospital. Enter the parking garage from Elba Street.
  • For wheelchair assistance, please go to the Duke University Hospital main entrance. Wheelchairs are located in the main lobby. For wheelchair assistance, use the lobby phone and call Duke Escort service at 919-681-2400.
  • If using the tunnel level from the Duke University Hospital parking garage, please take the transit level elevator to the third floor and check in at the Pre-Surgery Information and Registration desk.

Wheelchair and Stroller Accessibility

Please use the Duke University Hospital valet parking service or patient drop-off area in front of the Duke University Hospital.