After Surgery: Discomforts and Complications
What are some common post-op
The amount of discomfort you have
after surgery depends on many things, including the type of surgery. Typical discomforts
Nausea and vomiting from general anesthesia
Sore throat caused by the
tube placed in the windpipe for breathing during surgery
Soreness, pain, and swelling around the incision site
Restlessness and sleeplessness
Constipation and gas
What complications may occur after
Complications can sometimes occur
after surgery. These are the most common complications.
Complications may include the
Shock is a severe drop in blood pressure that causes a dangerous slowing of blood
flow throughout the body. Shock may be caused by blood loss, infection, spine injury,
or metabolic problems. Treatment may include any or all of the following:
Stopping any blood loss
Helping with breathing. This might be with a breathing machine.
Reducing heat loss
Giving IV fluids or blood
Giving extra oxygen
Prescribing medicines. This might be raise blood pressure.
Rapid blood loss from the site of surgery, for example, can lead to shock. Treatment
of rapid blood loss may include:
When bacteria enter the site of surgery, an infection can happen. Infections can
delay healing. Wound infections can spread to nearby organs or tissue, or to distant
areas through the bloodstream. Treatment of wound infections may include:
Deep vein thrombosis
A deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot in a large vein deep inside a leg, arm, or
other part of the body. Symptoms are pain, swelling, tenderness, and skin redness in
a leg, arm, or other area. If you have these symptoms, call your healthcare provider.
Compression stockings are often used for treatment. They can also prevent DVTs.
The clot can break away from the vein and travel to the lungs. This clot is called a
pulmonary embolism. In the lungs, the clot can cut off the flow of blood. This is a
medical emergency and may cause death. If you have the following symptoms, call 911
or get emergency help. Symptoms are chest pain, trouble breathing, coughing (may
cough up blood), sweating, very low blood pressure, fast heartbeat, light headedness,
and fainting. Treatment depends on the location and size of the blood clot. It may
Blood-thinner medicines (anticoagulants) to prevent more clots
Thrombolytic medicines to dissolve clots
Surgery or other procedures
Sometimes lung problems happen because you don’t do deep breathing and coughing
exercises within 48 hours of surgery. They may also happen from pneumonia or from
inhaling food, water, or blood into the airways. Symptoms may include wheezing, chest
pain, shortness of breath, fever, and cough.
This means you aren’t able to empty your bladder. This may be caused by the
anesthesia or certain surgeries. It is often treated by using a thin tube (catheter)
to drain the bladder. This is kept in place until you have regained bladder control.
Sometimes medicines to stimulate the bladder may be given.
Reaction to anesthesia
This is rare, but it does happen. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Treatment
of allergic reactions includes stopping specific medicines that may be causing the
reaction. You may also be given other medicines to treat the allergy. Tell your
healthcare team about any allergies you have before the surgery to minimize this
risk. If an allergic reaction does occur, ask what caused the allergy so you can stay
away from it for any future surgery.