What to expect after the operation
When you wake up after the operation, you will be in a recovery room near the operating theatre. Once you are fully conscious, you will be transferred to the ward.
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You will have an intravenous drip in your arm to give you medicines and fluid, and a tube in your bladder (catheter) to collect urine. These will usually be removed the day after the operation.
As with all major operations, you will have some discomfort or pain. For the first day or two, you may be given pain medicine.
This may be delivered in different ways, such as:
- through a drip
- via a local anaesthetic injection into the abdomen (a transverse abdominis plane, or TAP, block)
- via a local anaesthetic injection into your back, either into spinal fluid (a spinal) or into the space around spinal nerves (an epidural)
- with a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) system, a machine that allows you to press a button for a measured dose of pain relief.
Let your doctor or nurse know if you are in pain so they can adjust your medicines to make you as comfortable as possible. Do not wait until the pain is severe.
You can expect some light vaginal bleeding after the surgery, which should stop within two weeks. Your treatment team will talk to you about how you can keep the wound/s clean to prevent infection once you go home.
You will be given a daily injection of a blood thinner to reduce the risk of blood clots. Depending on your risk of clotting, you may be taught to give this injection to yourself, so you can continue it for a few weeks at home. You may also be advised to wear compression stockings for a couple of weeks to help the blood in your legs circulate.
The medicines used during and after surgery can cause constipation (difficulty passing bowel motions). Talk to your treatment team about how to manage this – they may suggest a stool softener, fibre supplement, or another medicine. Once your surgeon says you can get out of bed, walking around can also help.
You will stay in hospital for about 1âˆ’4 days. The length of stay will depend on the type of surgery you have had and how quickly you recover.
Your doctor will have all the test results about a week after the operation. Whether further treatment is necessary will depend on the type, stage and grade of the disease, and the amount of any remaining cancer. If the cancer is at a very early stage, you may need additional treatment.
I had a total hysterectomy and some of my lymph nodes were removed as well. Fortunately, the cancer hadn’t spread, but because it was grade 3 the doctor recommended I have chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
A/Prof Alison Brand, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Kate Barber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Prof Jonathan Carter, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Dr Robyn Cheuk, Senior Radiation Oncologist, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Dr Alison Davis, Medical Oncologist, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, The Canberra Hospital, ACT; Kim Hobbs, Clinical Specialist Social Worker, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Nicole Kinnane, Nurse Coordinator, Gynaecology Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Jennifer Loveridge, Consumer; Pauline Tanner, Gynaecology Cancer Nurse Coordinator, WA Cancer & Palliative Care Network, North Metropolitan Health Service, WA. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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