What to expect after surgery
When you wake up from surgery, you will be in a recovery room near the operating theatre. Once you are fully conscious, you will be taken to your bed on the hospital ward.
Tubes and dripsYou may have an intravenous (IV) drip to give you fluid and medicine, a tube in your abdomen to drain fluid from the operation site, and a small plastic tube (catheter) in your bladder to drain urine (wee). These tubes will be removed before you go home.
After the catheter is removed from your bladder, the nurses will check that your bladder is emptying properly. This is called a bladder scan. It is done by measuring the amount of urine you pass each time you go to the toilet, then using an ultrasound scan of your lower belly to check that your bladder is empty. It is a quick, painless scan that is done on the hospital ward.
Pain and discomfortAfter a major operation, it is common to feel some pain. You will be given pain medicine as a tablet (orally), through a drip (intravenously) or through a catheter inserted in the spaces in the spine (epidural). If you still have pain, let your doctor or nurse know so they can change your medicine to one that provides more relief.
Blood clot preventionYou will usually have injections of a blood thinner to reduce the risk of blood clots. While you are in bed, you may have to wear compression stockings on your lower legs. These stockings help the blood in your legs circulate and prevent blood clots forming in the deep veins of the legs or pelvis (deep vein thrombosis). You will be encouraged to walk around as soon as you can.
RecoveryYou will usually spend 2–3 days in hospital after surgery. The recovery time depends on the type of surgery, your fitness and whether you have any complications. You will be able to go home when the treatment team is satisfied with your recovery and the results of your bladder function tests.
For more on this, see our general section on Surgery.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
Dr Pearly Khaw, Lead Radiation Oncologist, Gynae-Tumour Stream, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Deborah Neesham, Gynaecological Oncologist, The Royal Women’s Hospital and Frances Perry House, VIC; Kate Barber, 13 11 20 Consultant, VIC; Dr Alison Davis, Medical Oncologist, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Krystle Drewitt, Consumer; Shannon Philp, Nurse Practitioner, Gynaecological Oncology, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and The University of Sydney Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, NSW; Dr Robyn Sayer, Gynaecological Oncologist Cancer Surgeon, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Megan Smith, Senior Research Fellow, Cancer Council NSW; Melissa Whalen, Consumer.
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