Immediately after surgery
After your operation you will be brought to the intensive care unit.
The intensive care unit (ICU)
As you will be undergoing major surgery it is important that you understand exactly what will happen to you in the first few days. Most patients spend 24-48 hours in intensive care. Close family members can visit you soon after you come back from the operating theatre, although most of the time in intensive care you will be sleeping. During this time you will be looked after very closely by highly experienced nursing and medical staff. It is necessary to use modern equipment to record the action of your heart and lungs. This equipment can be noisy but it is necessary for you in order to make a safe recovery.
When you wake up you will be aware of sounds such as alarms and lots of activity. These are normal sounds made by the equipment around you. You will also hear people talking. Someone may be asking you questions or telling you that your surgery is over.
A lot of equipment is used for your care during and after surgery.
NB: all the different tubes mentioned below are put in while you are asleep.
A breathing tube will be placed in your mouth to your lungs. It will be attached to a machine called a ventilator, which does the breathing for you while you are asleep.
As you wake up the breathing machine will be removed. The breathing tube will be removed and you can breathe normally.
A small oxygen mask will be placed over your mouth and nose. You may be hoarse or have a sore throat for a few days.
You will have:
- A drip in your neck and arm – to give you painkillers and other drugs
- Urinary catheter – a tube to your bladder to remove urine
- Chest drains – tubes in your chest to drain away blood and fluids
- Heart monitor – a machine to count your heart beat
- Blood pressure monitor
Each of the above will be removed in the days following your surgery.