After Scoliosis Surgery - What Happens Next?Pain Management
Most patients are given PCA (patient-controlled analgesia). PCA is a pump that delivers morphine or other narcotic at the press of a button by the patient. This controls pain very well for the first two to three days after surgery. Then the patient is switched to oral pain medication and discharged home with a prescription. Adults may require medication at diminishing doses for weeks or months. Children are usually off medication within two weeks.
A drain prevents fluid accumulation at the incision site and is routine. Most patients have a drain in their back or side for two to three days after surgery. Drains in the side of the chest are termed 'chest tubes' and prevent air and fluid from accumulating around the lungs. Drains are removed when fluid drainage is small. Drain removal is not painful.
A urinary catheter (Foley) helps to keep the patient comfortable. It may be removed two or three days after surgery.
Physical therapists and nurses help the patient out of bed on the first or second day after surgery. Walking is guided by the physical therapist and is increased daily. Some patients may need a walker or cane early during recovery and may be discharged with one from the hospital. A walker or cane can help a patient keep their balance. Most children do not need walking aids at home.
Most patients will not begin to eat for two to three days after surgery. This is because the bowels slow down after surgery and patients have difficulty keeping food down. Patients start on a diet slowly, first with sips of clear liquids, and move on to solid foods and a regular diet. Once home, it is important to eat well; small frequent meals are best to maintain body weight.
Before release from the hospital, patients must be able to:
- Eat a regular diet
- Urinate normally
- Walk, including up and down stairs (for home discharge)
- Have no fevers
- Minimal drainage at the incision site(s)
Some patients, especially adults, will benefit from a one- to three-week stay at an inpatient rehabilitation facility to improve walking and overall function.
Your recovery will continue after you are released from hospital. Learn more about Recovering from Scoliosis Surgery at Home
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