Going into hospital for ovarian cancer surgery

You will probably go into hospital on the day of your operation.

Before you go into hospital

It’s worth sorting out a few things before you go into hospital. These might include:

  • taking time off work
  • care for children or other loved ones
  • care for your pets
  • care for your house
  • cancelling your milk or newspapers

What to take with you

Take in:

  • nightgowns or pyjamas
  • underwear
  • dressing gown
  • slippers
  • contact lenses, solution, glasses and a case
  • towel
  • wash bag - flannel, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap
  • sanitary towels
  • small amount of money
  • medicines you normally take
  • magazines, books
  • headphones and music to listen to
  • a tablet or smartphone for web browsing, entertainment and phone calls

Family and friends

Before you go into hospital, it might be worth checking:

  • whether the ward is allowing visitors
  • if they have set visiting times
  • the best number for friends and family to phone, to find out how you are

The letter you receive before your operation may contain this information. But if not, you can phone the ward or hospital reception to find out.

You can use your mobile phone in hospital. But there may be some time before and after your operation when you won’t have your mobile nearby. And you may not feel like talking.

Time in hospital

You are likely to be in hospital for between 2 to 4 days depending on the type of operation you have and your recovery.

On the day of your ovarian cancer surgery

On the day of the operation you stop eating for about 6 hours before your operation. But you can still drink clear fluids (nothing fizzy) up to 2 hours beforehand.

If you have them you must take off your:

  • jewellery, except for a wedding ring
  • make up, including nail varnish
  • contact lenses 
  • false teeth (you can take these off in the anaesthetic room)

You change into a hospital gown. Your nurse will help you to put on elastic stockings, called TED stockings. They help to stop you getting blood clots in your legs after surgery.

Your nurse will check your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and breathing rate. 

The nurses can arrange for a member of the surgical team to come and talk to you if you still have any questions about your operation. You'll sign a consent form for the operation if you didn't do it at the pre assessment clinic.

You might have a drip (intravenous infusion) put into your arm before your surgery so that you can have fluids. This makes sure you are not dehydrated before your operation.

Your nurse may ask you to have suppositories or an enema to clear out your bowel. This will help you avoid being constipated after your operation.

Your nurse and a porter take you to theatre on a trolley or you can walk.

Having an anaesthetic

You have an anaesthetic so that you can’t feel anything during the operation. You have this in the anaesthetic room, next to the operating theatre.

All the doctors and nurses wear theatre gowns, hats and masks. This reduces your chance of getting an infection.

Before you go to sleep your anaesthetist might put a small tube through the skin of your back. It goes into the fluid around your spinal cord. They can attach a pump to this tube to give you pain medicines during and after the operation.

The anaesthetist puts a small tube into a vein in your arm (cannula). You have any fluids and medicines you need through the cannula including the general anaesthetic. This sends you into a deep sleep. When you wake up, the operation will be over.

  • The Royal Marsden Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures, 9th edition
    L Dougherty and S Lister (Editors)
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2015

Last reviewed: 
11 Jan 2022
Next review due: 
11 Jan 2025