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What to expect after a major operation

Side effects of surgery differ from person to person. The severity of the side effects depends on the type of surgical procedure and anaesthetic administered. The most common side effects tend to be pain and nausea.

Pain relieving drugs are called analgesics. Drugs that relieve nausea are called antiemetics. These are always ordered by the surgeon or anaesthetist after your surgery and administered by nursing staff at regular intervals to keep you comfortable.

Patient controlled analgesia may be provided to you after major surgery. This means you can regulate the amount of pain relief you get by simply pressing a trigger button on a computerised pump attached to your intravenous infusion. There is a control mechanism within the machine that prevents overdosing. If you use one of these machines information is given to ensure you will be comfortable with its use.

If you are not made comfortable by the drugs ordered for you let the nursing or medical staff know and they will have your medication orders reviewed by the doctors. Tablets to relieve pain may be ordered for you on discharge with instructions on how frequently you can take them.

As your recovery progresses the various tubes and attachments are normally removed and you are encouraged to increase the range of your movements and eat and drink normally. It is usual to be transferred to a general ward from intensive care or high dependency, before being discharged from hospital.