After Your Operation
After the operation, you will be transferred to a recovery room, which is also known as the Post-Anaesthetic Care Unit (PACU), or you may be transferred to a High Dependency Unit (HDU) or an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Your anaesthetist and supporting staff will continue to monitor your condition in the recovery room to ensure your recovery is as smooth and trouble-free as possible. If you feel pain or nauseated, you should inform your anaesthetist or nurse, as appropriate medication will be administered. You may also be administered medication to adjust blood pressure or heart rate.
If you had general anaesthesia, when waking up you may feel light-headed or drowsy, have some discomfort or pain, a sore or dry throat, feel sick or have a headache. These are common side effects, but are temporary and usually go away soon. To enhance the recovery process, you will be given an oxygen mask to breathe into. You may also have some dizziness, blurred vision or short-term memory loss, but these usually pass relatively quickly.
Pain is something that you will naturally experience after an operation, however, there are medicines and techniques available to help minimise your pain. Some of these techniques include:
- prescribing regular medicines to be administered by the nursing staff
- prescribing 'as needed' medicines (known as PRN) as a rescue for excess pain
- Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) which allows patients to self-administer a preset dose of medication that is delivered into the vein, the dosage limit being prescribed by the anaesthetist
You will not be discharged from the recovery room until adequate pain relief has been achieved. The length of stay in the recovery room can last up to several hours. When you are comfortable, you will be transferred to your room, ward or a waiting area before being allowed to return home.
Suitable pain relief may be provided for at least the first day after discharge with clear written instructions on how and when it should be used.
For patients who have undergone day-surgery, you will be discharged after being provided with verbal and written instructions on all relevant aspects of post-anaesthesia and surgical care, as well as a contact phone number for you to ring in a situation where emergency medical care is needed.
Day-surgery patients must also make a prior arrangement for someone to accompany you home. For at least 24 hours after the surgery, you must not:
- drive a car
- make important decisions
- use any dangerous equipment or tools
- sign any legal documents
- drink alcohol
If you continue to experience any side effects, you should contact your anaesthetist.