Definition of Postoperative Procedures

Postoperative Procedures – The events that take place to guide a person’s safe and comfortable recovery from anesthesia and to initiate effective pain relief after a surgical operation.

When the operation is over the person goes to a postanesthesia care unit (PACU) where staff monitor vital signs (heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and body temperature) and emergence from anesthesia. A person who has had regional or general anesthesia may remain in the PACU for two to four hours, until he or she regains the ability to use the anesthetized region of the body or regains consciousness.

It is common and normal to feel disoriented when first coming out of anesthesia. Many people who have had general anesthesia do not realize the operation is over. It is also normal to feel chilled and to experience discomfort, numbness, or pain.

The surgeon may infiltrate the operative site with a local anesthetic to provide localized pain relief for 12 to 24 hours after the operation or place tiny catheters in the surgical wound to instill a continuous irrigation of a local anesthetic for extended pain relief.

Most often the person is already receiving analgesic medications to relieve pain and generally receives Patient controlled analgesia (pca) during the recovery period. When fully stable the person may go to a room in the hospital, if an overnight stay in the hospital is necessary, or home to recover and recuperate. Before discharge the PACU staff provide instructions for wound care, pain management, possible complications such as unusual bleeding, and follow-up appointments with the surgeon.


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