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Date: 26 May 2024

Time: 13:06

Post-bowel surgery

Pain relief

The anaesthetist will discuss pain management with you before your operation. The two main pain relief options are an epidural or patient controlled analgesia (PCA).

An epidural is a form of medication given to you by the insertion of a fine tube (catheter) into your spine. PCA involves a painkiller administered via a drip into your vein whereby you control the amount you receive by pressing a button. You will be reviewed post-operatively by the acute pain team, anaesthetist and ward doctors. They will then ensure you have the best pain relief to minimise any discomfort. By the time you are ready to leave hospital, simple painkilling tablets are effective and they will be provided for you on discharge.

General care

After surgery you will have a number of drips in place for fluids and drugs that are administered through your vein. A tube (catheter) will have been placed into the bladder to monitor the urine produced by your kidneys. You may also have a catheter placed in the rectum and a drain or tube in the abdomen to drain off any fluid which accumulates after the operation. This will be removed ny your nurse when the drainage decreases. These procedures are not painful but can be a little uncomfortable. If you are worried ask the nursing staff about this.

Traditionally patients have been kept starved following bowel surgery with fluid given by an intravenous drip. Although for some patients this may be necessary, recently we have found that early feeding can speed up recovery. It is not unusual for patients to be drinking on the day of the operation and eating 1 or 2 days later. This is part of an Enhanced Recovery Programme and you will be given a booklet and DVD about this before your surgery.

We will also try to get you out of bed and moving around. This helps bowel function, prevention of chest infections and other complications.  All information will be explained to you by nurses, doctors and physiotherapists looking after you.
Once your bowels start to function you may suffer from loose stool / diarrhoea and urgency for the first few days, this is quite normal and will gradually settle.

Your wound(s) will have been joined with either stitches (which are often dissolvable and do not need to be removed) or staples (metal clips) that are normally removed after 10-14 days. The nurses on the ward can do this or district nurses if you have already returned home.

Going Home

When you return home you should not participate in any strenuous exercise and gradually return to your normal activities. Please ask for advice about driving, eating, drinking, exercise and medication. It is normal for most patients to be seen again in the out patient department to check your wounds, progress and recovery from surgery. If you have any concerns telephone the ward for advice or see your G.P.

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