Hospital recovery room
After surgery you will be moved to a recovery room. This is an area near the operating theatre with monitoring equipment and specially trained staff. In some hospitals, it may be called a recovery ward or post-anaesthesia care unit. It might be a shared space or a private room.
People who need a high level of care will go into the high dependency unit (HDU) or intensive care unit (ICU). You will be moved out of the HDU or ICU as your condition improves. Your doctor will tell you before surgery if it’s likely you will be moved to one of these units.
While the anaesthetic wears off, a nurse will check your wound, pain levels and vital signs. They will also give you medicine or fluids to help reduce side effects caused by the anaesthetic.
You will have several tubes in place. Once you have woken up, you will be moved from the recovery room:
- If you had day surgery, you will stay in the day surgery unit until the nurses decide that you are well enough to go home.
- If you had surgery as an inpatient and are staying in hospital to recover, you will be moved from the recovery room to a ward.
|intravenous (IV) drip||inserted into a vein in your arm or handgives you fluids until you can eat and drink againalso used to give pain relief and other medicinesmay be in place for a few hours or a few days, depending on the surgery|
|tube down your throat||used to help you breathe during surgeryusually removed while you are under anaesthetic, but may stay in if you go to HDU or ICU|
|surgical drain||a tube placed in the wound to drain excess fluid into a small bottle or bagusually removed after a few days, depending on how much fluid is being collected and the type of operation|
|urinary catheter||a thin tube that drains urine from your bladder into a bagusually removed when you start walking after surgery and can get to the toilet, or when your epidural pain relief is finished|
|nasogastric (NG) tube||a thin tube placed through your nose into the stomachremoves fluid from the stomach until bowel function returns to normal|
|feeding tube||may be needed if you are unable to eat and drink after surgerya tube is placed into your stomach or small bowel, either through your nostril or through an opening on the outside of your abdomenusually temporary, but sometimes permanent|
Prof Andrew Spillane, Surgical Oncologist, Melanoma Institute of Australia, and Professor of Surgical Oncology, The University of Sydney Northern Clinical School, NSW; Lynne Hendrick, Consumer; Judy Holland, Physiotherapist, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Kara Hutchinson, Cancer Nurse Coordinator, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, VIC; A/Prof Declan Murphy, Urologist and Director of Genitourinary Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Prof Stephan Schug, Director of Pain Medicine, Royal Perth Hospital, and Chair of Anaesthesiology and Pain Medicine, The University of Western Australia Medical School, WA; Dr Emma Secomb, Specialist Surgeon, Hinterland Surgical Centre, QLD. We would like to thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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