Pancreatic resection a major operation and you will usually have to stay in the Intensive Care Unit for a short while afterward (usually 24 – 48 hours). This allows the team to closely monitor your progress and recovery. When you’re ready we will transfer you to the ward.
Wounds and drains:
The cut in your skin usually stitched up with dissolvable stitches, so there no need for stitches to be removed. The surgeon will place drains in your abdomen to remove fluids from the operation site. These removed approximately four-five days after the operation.
The nurse will need to check your blood pressure and pulse regularly – initially every hour, then every two to four hours. You will have a small tube in one of your arteries to measure your blood pressure.
You will need to wear an oxygen mask for the first 24 – 48 hours following your operation. This helps with your breathing and recovery. In rare cases, you may still require help from a breathing machine when you leave the theatre. However, in most cases, the tube in your throat will be removed immediately after surgery.
The physiotherapist will see you every day during your stay in the ward and encourage you to practice deep breathing exercises. This is important as it will help prevent you from developing a chest infection.
Eating and drinking:
You will not be allowed to eat or drink for up to 3-4 days following your operation. To help stop you from being sick we may place a tube from your nose to your stomach. You will have a drip in a vein in your neck and your arm to provide essential fluid while you cannot drink.
When you feeling better you will be asked to start drinking and eating again by taking sips of water and then gradually building up to a normal diet over the course of a few days. By this time the drip in your neck or arm, and the tube in your nose will be removed.
The pancreas plays an important role in controlling how sugar stored in your body. For the first 48 hours, we will need to check your blood sugar at least every six hours to ensure your pancreas working normally. This involves pricking your finger with a small needle and squeezing a small sample of blood on to a sugar sensor stick. A lot of people will require insulin treatment, at least in the short term.
Passing urine: You will have a tube in your bladder (catheter) draining the urine into a bag, which the nurse will use to measure to monitor your progress.
Pain relief: You will have a pump to control your pain. This will either be an epidural (which runs through a tube in your back) or a PCA (patient controlled analgesia) pump, which connects to a small tube under the skin in your arm. You will be taught how to use this before you have your operation.
It is important while you in bed to change position regularly (at least every two hours) so that you can relieve the pressure on your bottom and heels. The nurses will help you to do this.
Getting moving again:
You will be encouraged to get up and about the morning after your operation. The sooner this is done and the more you mobilize, the less likely it that complications will occur. The nursing staff and physiotherapists will help you. You will also have a pair of white (TED) stockings on, as this helps to improve the circulation in your legs and prevent blood clots from forming. Please bring slippers with you to wear over the TED stockings to reduce the risk of you slipping when mobilizing post-operatively.
After your operation, you will be seen by the physiotherapist on the ward to check your chest and help you to begin mobilizing again. Any general anesthetic has an effect on the natural function of your lungs and your physiotherapist will help you to counteract this by teaching you breathing exercises and assisting you to cough effectively. Sitting out in a chair and walking around at an early stage very important for your digestive system and for your circulation and chest, so don’t be surprised if you encouraged to get out of bed on the day after your operation.
You will be “attached” to a variety of tubes (one or more wound drains, a drip, a catheter, and some form of pain relief) but your physiotherapist or the nursing staff will be able to help you with these and you will only be mobilizing with their assistance in the early postoperative stages.
Initially, you may feel too tired or weak to be able to walk to the bathroom so the nursing staff can help you to wash.
Please bring your normal medication with you when you come into the hospital. You should continue to take your usual medication and this will be prescribed for you (on your medication chart) and dispensed by the nursing staff. In addition, you will be given a small injection twice daily of heparin to prevent you from getting blood clots in your legs. You may also be given antibiotics to help prevent infection.
- try and sit out of bed as soon as you encouraged to do so.
- the breathing exercises you are taught several times a day.
- let the nursing staff know if you are in pain.