Hospital recovery room
After the operation is over, you will be moved to a recovery room. This is an area near the operating theatre where there is 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.
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People who need a high level of care will go into the high dependency unit (HDU) or intensive care unit (ICU) for the first night or for a few days. You will be moved out of the HDU or ICU as your condition improves. Your surgeon will tell you before surgery if it’s likely you will be moved to one of these units.
While the anaesthetic wears off, a recovery 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 may have several tubes in place.
|intravenous (IV) drip||
|nasogastric (NG) tube||
Leaving the recovery room
You will leave the recovery room when the nursing staff are satisfied that your vital signs are stable and that you are comfortable.
- Day surgery – You will be moved to the day surgery unit where you will get dressed and have something to eat and drink before going home. Your surgeon will often see you here to discuss the procedure.
- Inpatient surgery – If you are staying in hospital to recover, you will be moved from the recovery room to a ward.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
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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