Immediately After Surgery

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It is not uncommon for patients to return from surgery with facial and body swelling due to position in surgery and large amount of IV fluids received. Facial swelling generally resolves in 1-2 days.

IV DripWhen you return from the Recovery Room you will have intravenous (IV) fluids running into your arm. A device called a PCA (Patient Controlled Analgesia) may be connected to your IV fluids. This PCA will allow you to administer your own pain medication by pressing the button whenever you have pain. You cannot overdose! This is a very small dose which goes directly into your vein and should relieve your pain quickly. You may also be on a cardiac monitor to watch your heart rate and rhythm.

Nurses will be listening to your lungs and helping you take deep breaths and cough. An Incentive Spirometer is also used to help you measure how deeply you breathe. You will be turned frequently by the logrolling method. A sheet will be placed from your shoulders to hips to help the nurses turn you as a unit. Hips and shoulders must move together.

Your nurse will be monitoring your intake and output for a few days. You will remain NPO (nothing by mouth) for the first day and slowly advance to a regular diet. You might have a Naso-Gastric (NG) tube (a tube inserted from your nose to your stomach). This is to keep your stomach drained and prevent you from getting sick after surgery. Most times, this is removed before you wake up from surgery.

You may have a foley catheter. This is a tube that is placed into the bladder to collect urine. The catheter will be inserted after you are asleep in surgery. Your nurse will monitor the amount and color of your urine to make sure you are getting enough fluids. The foley catheter will be removed once you are able to get out of bed.

You may have one or more drains around your back and/or side incision. These drains collect excess bleeding and drainage from under the skin. This keeps your wound from swelling and helps the nurses and doctors estimate your blood loss.

If you have an anterior spinal fusion (an incision in front or on the side) you may have a chest tube after surgery. This would be due to the front approach of the surgery and the need to move the lung out of the way for visualization of the spine. The chest tube is usually in for 3 days. You will have a chest x-ray everyday while the chest tube is in place.

Examples of Post Operative Spinal X-Rays

 x-ray thoracolumbar instrumentation  x-ray, thoracolumbar instrumentation, anterior


Updated on: 03/21/16
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Recovering from Surgery
Mary Rodts, DNP
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