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- The day of the surgery
- Complications during surgery
Complications during surgery
Sometimes problems or complications occur during surgery. It’s very unlikely that all of the complications described here would apply to you. Your surgeon can give you a better idea of the risks of your operation.
Generally, the more complex the surgery is, the higher the chance of problems. Read about some complications after surgery.
Bleeding – You may lose blood during surgery. Your surgeon will usually manage and control bleeding. Sometimes, you may receive a blood transfusion during surgery to replace lost blood.
Damage to nearby tissue and organs – Most internal organs are packed tightly together, so operating on one part of the body can affect nearby tissue and organs. This may alter how other organs work after surgery – for example, the surgeon’s handling of the bowel during pelvic surgery may cause temporary constipation (difficulty passing a bowel motion) or a build-up of gas in the abdomen.
Drug reactions – In rare cases, some people have a bad reaction to anaesthetic or other drugs used during surgery. This can lead to changes in blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. Your anaesthetist will monitor these signs throughout the surgery and quickly treat any changes if they occur.
Tell your doctor if you’ve had any previous reactions to over‑the-counter, prescription or herbal medicine, even if the reaction was small.
Podcast for people affected by cancer
Prof Elisabeth Elder, Specialist Breast Surgeon, Westmead Breast Cancer Institute and University of Sydney, NSW; Chanelle Curnuck, Dietitian – Dietetics and Nutrition, Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group, WA; Department of Anaesthetics, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Medicine, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Jessica Feeney, Nurse Unit Manager, Breast, Endocrine and Gynaecology, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; A/Prof Richard Gallagher, Head and Neck Surgeon, Director of Cancer Services and Head and Neck Cancer Services, St Vincent’s Health Network, NSW; John Leung, Consumer; Rohan Miegel, Senior Physiotherapist – Cancer Care, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; A/Prof Nicholas O’Rourke, University of Queensland and Head of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Royal Brisbane Hospital, QLD; Lucy Pollerd, Social Worker, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Suzanne Ryan, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Department of General Surgery, Sunshine Coast University Hospital, QLD; Rebecca Yeoh, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland.
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