The amount of discomfort following surgery depends on many things, including the type
of surgery performed. Typical discomforts may include:
Sometimes, complications can occur after surgery. These are the most common complications.
Shock. Shock is a severe drop in blood pressure that causes a dangerous reduction
of blood flow throughout the body. Shock may be caused by blood loss, infection, brain
injury, or metabolic problems. Treatment may include any or all of the following:
Stopping any blood loss
Helping with breathing (with mechanical ventilation if needed)
Reducing heat loss
Giving intravenous (IV) fluids or blood
Prescribing medicines, for example, to raise blood pressure
Hemorrhage. Hemorrhage means bleeding. Rapid blood loss from the site of surgery,
for example, can lead to shock. Treatment of rapid blood loss may include:
Wound infection. When bacteria enter the site of surgery, an infection can result.
Infections can delay healing. Wound infections can spread to nearby organs or tissue,
or to distant areas through the blood stream. Treatment of wound infections may include:
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). Together, these conditions
are referred to as venous thromboembolism (VTE). This term is used because the conditions
are very closely related. And, because their prevention and treatment is also closely
related. A deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot in a large vein deep inside a leg,
arm, or other parts of the body. Symptoms are pain, swelling, and redness in a leg,
arm, or other area. If you have these symptoms, call your healthcare provider.
Pulmonary embolism. The clot can separate from the vein and travel to the lungs. This
forms 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, fast heartbeat, and fainting. Treatment depends on the
location and size of the blood clot. It may include:
Anticoagulant medicines (blood thinners to prevent further clotting)
Thrombolytic medicines (to dissolve clots)
Surgery or other procedures
Lung (pulmonary) complications. Sometimes, pulmonary complications arise due to lack
of deep breathing and coughing exercises within 48 hours of surgery. They may also
result from pneumonia or from inhaling food, water, or blood, into the airways. Symptoms
may include wheezing, chest pain, fever, and cough (among others).
Urinary retention. Temporary urine retention, or the inability to empty the bladder,
may occur after surgery. Caused by the anesthetic, urinary retention is usually treated
by the insertion of a catheter to drain the bladder until the patient regains bladder
control. Sometimes medicines to stimulate the bladder may be given.
Reaction to anesthesia. Although rare, allergies to anesthetics do occur. Symptoms
can range from mild to severe. Treatment of allergic reactions includes stopping specific
medicines that may be causing allergic reactions. Also, administering other medicines
to treat the allergy.