After surgery you will go to an area named the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) or recovery room. Here you will be monitored and treated as you emerge from anesthesia. You will stay here until you are comfortable and awake. Afterwards, you will either be discharged home or transported to a hospital room depending on the surgical procedure.

Nausea and vomiting

Many factors can increase your risk for postoperative nausea; these may include the following: female gender, history of motion sickness, genetic predisposition, dehydration, surgery of longer duration, and increased need for pain medications.

Certain types of surgeries such as plastic, orthopedic, ENT, intra-abdominal, breast, laparoscopic, and major gynecological surgeries also increase your risk for nausea.

Furthermore, the type of anesthesia and the drugs administered for a given surgical procedure can contribute to your risk for nausea.

Your anesthesia team will optimize your care to minimize nausea throughout your surgical experience. We routinely administer medications to prevent nausea and tailor the anesthetic to avoid nausea postoperatively. However, despite our best efforts, patients may still experience nausea after surgery. During your recovery, further options are available to treat nausea if necessary. Nurses in the recovery setting are highly trained in this aspect of your care.

Once you are home, your nausea should be controlled and you should be able to drink adequate fluids to maintain hydration. If not, it is important to notify your doctor for further medical attention.

Shoulder Pain: The common location of shoulder pain following laparascopic surgery. This is a referred pain resulting from irritation of the diaphragm.

Neck and Shoulder Pain after Laparoscopy

During laparoscopic surgery, carbon dioxide gas is used to create space in the abdomen so that the surgeon can visualize organ structures and perform surgery. After such procedure, patients can experience shoulder pain and/or pain below the diaphragm from residual gas in the abdomen. The pain can be sharp and aggravating, usually lasting up to 3 days. Pain medicine prescribed by your surgeon will help alleviate this problem. It is important to notify your surgeon if your pain is severe, persistent, or progressively worsening.

Sore Throat After Anesthesia

On occasion, you may experience a sore throat after your surgical procedure. When undergoing general anesthesia, it is often necessary to assist your breathing using an airway device inserted into the back of your throat or even into the trachea (windpipe). This is done while you are unconscious and is taken out upon awakening. As a result, a sore throat lasting 2 to 3 days can result from irritation to the soft tissues of the pharynx. Throat lozenges can help alleviate the symptoms until it heals on its own.

If you develop severe or persistent sore throat pain, please contact your anesthesiologist via the hospital or surgery center so that further evaluation and/or treatment can be instituted.

Pain Management

Managing pain throughout your surgical period is of high priority. Although pain after surgery is quite variable and not entirely predictable, it can be controlled with medication. During your surgery, the anesthesia team will monitor you closely and administer pain medication as needed.

As you are recovering from your operation, pain will be frequently monitored and assessed by your nurse. Initially, you will be administered intravenous narcotics as needed to control your pain. Our goal is to have your pain well under control before discharge from the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU).

If you are an inpatient, your surgeon will order necessary pain medications during your stay. Depending on your surgery, you may have the option of utilizing a patient controlled analgesia (PCA) device to control your pain. This device allows you to self dose your pain medication intravenously using a push button. It is programmed so that you cannot overdose yourself and will give you the convenience of receiving pain medication on demand.

For outpatient surgeries, you may receive a prescription from your surgeon for pain medication. Once you are discharged from the facility, your pain will have been effectively treated so that you are comfortable for your ride home.