What to expect after surgery
Immediately after the surgery you will be taken to the recovery room. You will be transferred to your hospital room once you are fully awake and your vital signs are stable. If you are scheduled to go home on the same day, you will be discharged from the recovery room after you are fully awake and cleared by the anesthesia and surgery teams for discharge.
- Post operative pain: pain medication can be controlled and delivered by the patient via pca (patient controlled analgesia) whereby you control the delivery of your own medication by a pump that is inserted through a small catheter in your back called an epidural. Alternatively, pain medications can be administered by the nursing staff through injection or orally.
- Nausea: you may experience some nausea related to the anesthesia or pain medication. Medication is available to treat persistent nausea.
- Urinary catheter: you can expect to have a urinary catheter (a narrow, hollow tube inserted into the urinary passage to drain your bladder). This will be placed in the operating room while you are asleep. It is not uncommon to have blood-tinged urine or burning on urination for a few days after your surgery, but this is temporary. You may need to go home with a catheter; in that case it will be removed in your doctor's office.
- Diet: you can expect to have an intravenous catheter (iv) in for 1-2 days. (an iv is a small tube placed into your vein so that you can receive necessary fluids and stay well hydrated; in addition it provides a way to receive medication.) Most patients are able to tolerate liquids the day after the surgery and a regular diet soon after. Once on a regular diet, pain medication will be taken by mouth instead of by iv or injection.
- Fatigue: fatigue is common and should start to subside in 3 to 4 weeks.
- Incentive spirometry: you will be expected to do some breathing exercises to help prevent respiratory infections through using an incentive spirometry device (these exercises will be explained to you during your hospital stay). Coughing and deep breathing are an important part of your recuperation and help to prevent pneumonia.
- Ambulation: it is very important to get out of bed the morning after surgery and begin walking with the supervision of your nurse or family member. Walking helps prevent blood clots, pneumonia and helps the bowel function to return. You can expect to have scd's (sequential compression devices) to prevent blood clots from forming in your legs. These are cloth sleeves wrapped around your ankles and pumped with air. They are removed once you are walking.
- Hospital stay: the length of hospital stay for most patients is approximately 2-4 days, depending on the extent of your surgery.
- Constipation: you may experience sluggish bowels for several weeks. Suppositories and stool softeners are usually given to help with this problem. Taking mineral oil daily at home will also help to prevent constipation.
- Drain (open surgery): you may have a drain coming out of a small incision in your side if you undergo open surgery. This will drain blood-tinged fluid and urine. It is usually removed the day the urinary catheter is removed. If persistent drainage occurs, you may have to go home with the drain and have it removed in your doctor's office.