Surgery: Empty Stomach or Nah?

Have you ever had surgery? If so, you might remember strict protocols about not eating for twelve hours before the operation. This, of course, is a safety measure so patients don’t die under anesthesia. No food. No exceptions.

What happens, though, if you’re in a serious car accident? The jaws of life are used to remove you and you’re carted off in an ambulance. Just before emergency surgery, do they call your roommates to check if you’ve had a big lunch or not? What if you did? Would they hold off on the surgery until that critical twelfth hour without food?

Of course, not. They cut your clothes off of you and surgery commences immediately. But, what about the twelve hour rule? What gives?

Countless emergency surgeries are happening right now with patients who’ve got a belly full of food. Either this is incredibly dangerous or the twelve hour fasting rule is nonsense, right?


These countless emergency surgeries will largely go off without a hitch and, considering the alternative, surgery is the most responsible thing they can do. Conversely, the twelve hour rule does exactly what it’s supposed to, which is to mitigate failure. After all, food in the digestive tract comes with some risks under anesthesia.

In the ‘Hold the Standard’ Summit, I talk about the nature of peak performance being one’s ability to master what’s in their control. It’s worth mentioning that in some instances, what we can control is less than normal. Therefore, mastering what’s in your control is a relative burden. Furthermore, peak performers, whether they are surgeons, athletes, or warfighters, will take advantage of as much as they can when they can.

After all, why take on the risk of operating on people with full stomachs if you don’t have to? The lesson here is, no matter how small of a detail, if it’s in your control, you’d better account for it. This would explain why basketball players have meticulous routines before shooting at the free throw line and no such behavior when guarded by an opponent. Believe me, if they could dribble twice, spin the ball in their hands, wiggle their butt, spin the ball, and shoot with an opponent in their face, they would.

Logan Gelbrich


7/18/18 WOD

Spend 10 minutes on rope climb anchors..

Then, complete 8 rounds for time of:
1 Rope Climb
6 Overhead Squats (135/95)
8 Burpees Over-the-Bar