Page 10 - Family Help
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Life after an oesophagectomy or gastrectomy

               Life after an oesophagectomy or gastrectomy

               After your operation
               If you have an oesophagectomy performed, you will be looked after on an
               intensive care unit (ICU) usually for a day or two. This does not mean you have
               complications; it is standard procedure. A ventilator may be used to help you to
               breathe. Patients who have a gastrectomy do not routinely go to ICU but will go to
               the overnight recovery unit.

               It is very important that pain is controlled adequately: –

                   •  for comfort;
                   •  to enable effective breathing and to minimise the risk of chest problems;
                   •  to enable better mobility – vital for breathing, increasing muscle strength
                       and stamina and to avoid deep vein thrombosis.

               You may experience some pain and/or discomfort after the operation. Most
               patients will have pain controlled using an epidural. This is a fine plastic tube that
               is inserted into the space around your spinal cord so that a drug can be given to
               numb the nerves. Your doctor or nurse will explain this procedure to you. Pain
               killing drugs can also be given through the feeding tube, mouth or intravenously
               (through a vein). The Acute Pain Team monitors pain control after surgery. It is
               vital to let your nurse or doctor know if your pain is not under control.

               Drips, drains and tubes
               A drip will be used to give you fluids until you are able to eat and drink again. You
               may also have a naso-gastric (NG) tube. This is a fine tube that passes down your
               nose into your stomach and allows any fluids to be removed so that you don’t feel
               sick. This helps the area of the operation to recover. You will have chest drains in
               place for a few days – this always applies to an oesophagectomy, not always for a
               gastrectomy. These tubes are inserted into your chest during the operation to
               drain away any fluid that may have collected around the lungs. The fluid drains
               into a bottle beside your bed.

               A Jejunostomy tube (Jej tube) is normally inserted into the abdomen during an
               oesophagectomy. This is the tube through which you will be fed while you cannot
               eat and drink or as a top-up to your nutrition in the early weeks following surgery.
               Patients who undergo a gastrectomy will not have a Jej tube inserted as they are
               likely to get back to eating and drinking more quickly.

               Breathing after your operation
               During your post-operative recovery period, a Physiotherapist will teach you
               exercises to re-expand your lungs to enable you to clear any mucus that has built
               up in your lungs during the operation. They will also show you how to cough
               effectively with your wound supported. They will also assist you to walk from the
               first day after your operation as this promotes lung re-expansion.

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