Common Post-Surgical Problems
March 17, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

Common Post-Surgical Problems

Many physical, physiological, and even psychological problems and discomforts occur to patients after they come out of major surgery. In some cases, even minor surgeries have a few physical and psychological symptoms of discomfort that have been witnessed in patients post-operation.

The number of complications and discomfort patients have after surgery depends on many things, including the type of surgery, their previous medical history, and experiences, their views about surgery, the personality of the patient, as well as their mental health issues.

Typical major complications may include:

       Shock and bleeding

       Wound infection

       Pulmonary embolism

       Lung problem

       Urinary retention

Shock and Bleeding:

Shock is a critical decline in blood pressure that causes a reduction of blood flow at an alarming rate throughout the body. Shock may be caused by loss of blood during or after surgery, infection around the wound or in another area, spine injury, etc. This may also be due to preoperative anxiety or panic attacks, causing physical problems.

The patients are treated by stopping the blood loss, assistance in deep breathing manually or by a machine, increasing the temperature and blood pressure through medicines, injecting IV fluids or blood, and blood transfusion, etc.

Wound Infection:

An infection can occur when bacteria enter the site of surgery, which can delay or slow down the healing of the surgical wound. These infections can spread to tissues or organs nearby, or they may travel to distant areas via blood capillaries. Wound infections are treated with antibiotics or by surgically cleaning the infected area.

Pulmonary Embolism:

A blood clot may form in a large vein inside the leg, arm, or other parts of the body, formed after surgery causing swelling, pain, redness, etc. The clot can disentangle from the vein and travel to the lungs. This clot is called a pulmonary embolism.

In the lungs, the clot can interrupt the flow of blood. This may cause the death of the patient unless they are urgently treated. The patients experiencing this show several symptoms including, chest pain, trouble in breathing, coughing up blood, sweating, very low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, lightheadedness, and faintness.

Treatment depends on the location and size of the blood clot that may include anticoagulants to prevent any more clot formation, thrombolytic medicines to dissolve clots, or surgical procedures to remove the clot.

Lung Problems:

Sometimes lung problems happen because the patients don’t do deep breathing and coughing exercises within 48 hours of surgery. This may also happen if the patients suffer from anxiety or panic disorder, and are unable to breathe.

The patients reveal symptoms that may include wheezing, chest pain, and shortness of breath, fever, and cough. Getting up and light exercise, like a slow walk, deep breathing, and coughing often can help diminish the chances for these lung problems. Treatment depends on the lung problem and the cause.

Urinary Retention:

After a long surgical procedure, sometimes the patients aren’t able to empty their bladder. This may be caused by the anesthesia or the type of surgery. It is often treated by using a thin tube (catheter) to drain the bladder. This is kept in place until the patients have regained bladder control. Sometimes medicines to stimulate the bladder may be given.

Other minor discomforts that patients disclose after the surgical procedure include:

       A sore throat caused by the tube placed in the windpipe for breathing during surgery

       Soreness, pain, and swelling around the incision site or minor pain around IV sites

       Nausea and vomiting from general anesthesia

       Restlessness and sleeplessness


       Constipation and gas

       Depression and anxiety pre and post-surgery

       Panic or anxiety attacks


These post-surgical discomforts are mostly decreased in time. A doctor may manage these physical symptoms by prescribing medicines and physical exercises. A therapist may also help the patient to heal from the mental discomfort of post-surgery complications. For detailed information and proper medications, book an online appointment with Shifa4U.

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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.