What’s Next?

After your surgery, you will be transferred to the recovery room (PACU) and then to a monitored bed on the Thoracic Surgical Floor.  In rare cases, a patient may require admission to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Tubes and Lines

  • After the operation, you will have at least one Intravenous (IV) line.  Arterial lines are not routinely used.
  • All major chest operations will require at least one Chest tube to drain fluid and air from the chest cavity and allow the lung to re-expand fully.
  • All major chest operations will require a Foley or bladder drainage catheter to drain urine and help monitor your condition.
  • After the operation, you will be administered supplemental humidified oxygen through a nasal cannula or oxygen mask.
  • After the operation, you will be connected to a pulse oximeter to measure oxygen level, EKG leads to monitor heart rate and rhythm, and a blood pressure cuff to monitor your blood pressure.

Pain control

Pain control is critical to decreasing post-operative complications and improving full recovery.  When possible, Dr. Skylizard will initiate an over-the-counter prophylactic pain regimen prior to surgery. Most chest surgery patients will receive a long acting nerve block during the operation.  Pain medications taken properly by mouth generally provide longer and more consistent pain relief and/or control.  Some of your pain medications will be initially administered by IV and then quickly transitioned to medication by mouth. In certain circumstances, we may recommend an epidural.

Pulmonary hygiene

After the operation, you need to work on getting your lungs back into shape. You will start deep breathing and coughing exercises immediately following your operation. Most patients undergoing any thoracic surgery procedure will be expected to walk the day/evening of surgery with supervised assistance.  You will also need to sit in a chair most of the day and walk at least four times a day after the operation. While we understand you may be tired or sore, it is imperative you participate fully.  Patients that do not actively participate in these efforts are more prone to getting pneumonia and possibly dying.

Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE)

Following any thoracic surgical procedure, ALL patients are at increased risk of developing life threatening clots in their legs and/or arms.  Dr. Skylizard’s patients are routinely administered a shot of heparin in the pre-operative holding area prior to surgery and then scheduled for additional heparin shots post-operatively to help decrease the risk of developing DVTs.  After the operation, you will need to walk at least four times a day to improve your breathing and decrease the chance of developing life threatening DVTs.  Most patients undergoing any thoracic surgical procedure will be expected to walk the day/evening of surgery with supervised assistance.

Food

After most procedures, Dr. Skylizard’s patients are started on liquids and rapidly advanced to an appropriate diet.  All patients are started on a bowel regimen generally consisting of a stool softener and similar medications.