Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Helping abdominal surgery patients recover sooner

There is nothing like a big gash in the center of your torso to make it hard to stand, walk, turn over, sleep, and generally enjoy life.

The University of Virginia Health System has a new system for before and after abdominal surgery to keep patients more comfortable.

These patients usually need five to six days in the hospital. One reason is that many such patients develop an ileus, a stoppage of the bowels that makes it hard to eat.

I have had an ileus from adhesions from past surgeries--you do not want this!

It is caused by strong pain meds and IV fluids being pumped in. You swell.

To cut the IV fluids, the Virginia docs let patients have sports drinks up to 2 hours before surgery and immediately following.

The opioid pain meds were replaced by acetaminophen. Tylenol.

Patients are also out of bed for six hours the day after surgery and eight hrs the next day. They even get up in the recovery room.

Twenty patients have tried this so far--and they go home three days earlier with less pain.

Sounds kind of dramatic--but worth thinking about. Ask your doctor.

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