Total Fasting and Dehydration in the Operating Room: How Can Surgeons Survive and Thrive?

Brian Y. Hwang, David Mampre, John R. Boesch, Judy Huang, William S. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Hydration and nutrition are critical to achieving optimal performance. This study aimed to assess the impact of limited oral intake in the operating room environment on surgical resident health, well-being, and performance. Design: Electronic survey was sent to 94 surgical trainees at our institution in 2020. Chi-square analyses were performed to assess for differences in survey responses by sex. Setting: A single tertiary-care institution. Participants: Surveys were sent to surgical residents and fellows in general surgery, neurosurgery, and orthopedic surgery. Seventy-nine (80%) of the 94 residents and fellows responded. Results: Of the 79 responses, most trainees (79%) experienced dehydration within 6 hours of operating. Forty-four (56%) reported no fluid intake for greater than 6 hours on average, and 39 (49%) reported that they frequently had difficulty rehydrating in between cases. Most of the respondents (70%) frequently experienced symptoms of dehydration, including orthostasis, headache, and constipation. Fifty-six (71%) believed that dehydration frequently affected their performance. Compared to men, women were more likely to feel dehydrated within 4 hours of operating (58% vs. 25%, p = 0.005). Women were also more likely to have difficulty rehydrating in between cases (75% vs. 38%, p = 0.0026), experience symptoms of dehydration (92% vs. 60%, p = 0.0049), and report that dehydration affects surgical performance (88% vs. 64%, p = 0.0318). Conclusions: Prolonged fasting and dehydration are common issues that may negatively impact performance and wellbeing of surgical trainees. Also, dehydration may affect men and women differently.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of surgical education
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • dehydration
  • diet
  • fasting
  • operating room
  • performance
  • surgical resident

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Total Fasting and Dehydration in the Operating Room: How Can Surgeons Survive and Thrive?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this