Chest Surgery

This handout gives you information about what will happen to you before, during and after your surgery. If you still have questions, please talk with your nurse or doctor.

Information about Thoracic Surgery
Thoracic surgery refers to surgery involving the chest area. This mainly involves the lungs, esophagus or the mediastinum (area between the two lungs). There are a variety of surgical procedures done in the chest area. Ask your doctor which procedure you will be having done.

Day of Your Surgery
On the day of your surgery, a nurse will talk with you either in the Ambulatory Surgery Unit or in your hospital room. Your vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, temperature and breathing rate) will be taken at this time. Blood tests will be done, if needed. The nurse will put a needle into your vein (IV or intravenous) to give you fluids. Dentures or partial plates, contact lenses, eyeglasses, hearing aids and any other prosthesis must be removed before going to surgery. Nail polish, make-up, jewelry and hair clips also will be removed. More on next page Learn more about your health care.

© Copyright, (4/10/2009) The Ohio State University Medical Center Upon request all patient education handouts are available in other formats for people with special hearing, vision and language needs, call (614) 293-3191.

A small clip (pulse oximeter) is placed on your finger to measure your pulse and the amount of oxygen in your blood. If your surgery takes longer than you were told. You will notice that the room has bright lights and is kept cool. As you come out of anesthesia. A nurse will greet you and check your identification (ID) bracelet. You will be made comfortable on the operating table. During your surgery your vital signs will be closely checked. The time it takes for your surgery is estimated. a nurse will watch you closely and take vital signs frequently. Your anesthesiologist will talk with you about your anesthesia for surgery and the type of pain management you will have after your surgery. like the operating room staff wear. During Surgery All staff in the operating room wear special scrub clothes. This is normal if you . You will be covered with an extra blanket if you are cold and your arms may be tucked in at your sides or put on an arm board.Page 2 Your family will be allowed to stay with you until you go to the operating room. After your surgery is over. You will see special equipment and tables being set up with supplies and instruments for your surgery. Your hair will be covered with a paper hat. The staff will explain what will happen to you before each step in the process. Your pulse and the amount of oxygen in your blood will be checked. Your heart beat may be seen on a screen. When you first wake up. you may feel cold and you may shiver. you will feel a tube on your face. You will leave the Ambulatory Surgery Unit (ASU) or your hospital room on a cart. it does not mean that anything is wrong. You will be asked about allergies. Your surgery may take a longer or shorter time than you and your family was told. If you need oxygen after your anesthesia. caps and masks. the surgeon or an assistant will call or come to the waiting area to talk to your family. A safety strap will be put over your knees to keep you in place. The nurse will help answer questions and tell your family where to wait while you are in surgery. After Surgery After your surgery you will be moved onto a cart and taken to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU).

your family will be allowed to visit. You will start doing breathing exercises right after surgery and these will be continued throughout your hospital stay. There will be other patients and a lot of activity and noise in this area. . Usual Care after Surgery Some of the equipment that may be used for you: • Heart monitor • Infusion pumps • Arterial lines and monitors • Foley catheter • Chest tube • Oxygen • Epidural catheter The epidural. The nurse will try to wake you up during your time in PACU. and / or neck area.Page 3 have had general anesthesia. you will be moved to the Ambulatory Surgery Unit (ASU) or to your hospital room. At this time. you may be in the hospital anywhere from 1 to 7 days. hand. Depending on the type of surgery you have. Fluids and medicines will be given through the IV. These IVs may be in your arm. ask your nurse to give you pain medicine. the amount of IV fluid you are given will be decreased. Intravenous (IV) Fluids You may have one or two IV catheters after surgery. When you are awake and your vital signs are normal. As you are able to drink fluids and eat food. Foley catheter and chest tube will most likely be removed 1 to 2 days before you leave the hospital. Your IVs will be removed on the day you are released from the hospital. If you have pain.

There are several types of incisions possible based on the type of surgery done. Pain medications will be given to you so that you can move . Nutrition After surgery you will be given a clear liquid diet the first time you are allowed to eat or drink. you will probably be released from the hospital if your chest x-ray is normal. This does not usually require special supplies or equipment. Activity The day of surgery you will be out of bed to a bedside chair and possibly walking. Often you will have no tubes in place when you are released from the hospital. You will be taught how to care for your incision and your chest tube sites before being released from the hospital. Ask your doctor what type of incision you will have after your operation. your doctor will remove it in the office. The purpose of these tubes is to drain fluid and air away from the area of surgery. Incision and Care of Dressing You will have a wound or incision after your surgery. This allows the lungs to expand properly. Either sutures or staples will be used to close your incision. Care of Your Chest Tubes You will likely have 1 or 2 chest tubes that are placed while in surgery. If you do go home with a tube. Each day the amount of time you are out of bed and the walking distance should increase. Your caregiver or family member may be taught as well.Page 4 Learning About Your Care You will be taught how to best care for yourself during your stay in the hospital. Your incision will be covered with a dressing that will be removed 2 or 3 days after your operation. Once the chest tubes are removed. The nursing staff will assist you with getting out of bed. You will be able to have solid foods after you are able to take clear liquids without any problems. You may find it uncomfortable to sit or lay in certain positions.

• You should plan to have someone stay with you for the first 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. Here are some common questions as well as some general information to help you plan for your care after surgery. If you have no one who can stay with you after surgery. Oxygen Based on the type of surgery. An epidural catheter is a tube placed in the spinal area. you may be on oxygen for several days while in the hospital. You may not be able to return to work for 2 to 12 weeks. Discharge Planning and Home Care You will be given detailed instructions about your care before being released from the hospital. Your breathing exercises are extremely important to your recovery and these will need to be done regularly for you to recover well. depending on the type of surgery you had performed. • • • • • • . You will most likely be prescribed pain pills at the time you leave the hospital. Walking also is a good form of exercise for the lungs after surgery. hospital staff will help arrange this. You may need to take prescription pain medicine for 2 to 12 weeks after surgery. Some patients may need a short stay in a rehabilitation facility or home nursing visits after the hospital. Pain Pain medicine may be given through your IV or through an epidural catheter. This varies based on the type of surgery and the type of work you do. You will not be allowed to drive for 2 to 4 weeks. If you continue to need oxygen after you are discharged from the hospital. Continue your breathing exercises for 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. please talk with your doctor before surgery to discuss options for your care. You should not lift more than 10 pounds for 2 to 6 weeks. often in the middle to upper region of the back.Page 5 around without too much pain.

.edu. Talk to your doctor or others on your health care team if you have questions. • Arm weakness on the side of surgery can last up to 4 weeks after surgery. depending on the health of your lungs before surgery and type of surgery you had Constipation can be caused by the pain pills – a stool softener will be given to lessen this side effect • Less common symptoms that may occur are: • Numbness and tingling around the incision is normal and may take 6 to 12 months to improve.Page 6 The most common symptoms patients experience after thoracic surgery include: • • • • Lack of energy / tiredness – this may last 4 weeks or longer Decrease in appetite – this may last 2 to 4 weeks Pain usually decreases with time – pain pills may be prescribed Mild to moderate shortness of breath. You may request more written information from the Library for Health Information at (614) 293-3707 or email: health-info@osu. Physical therapy may be prescribed if this occurs.

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