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Major gynae-oncology abdominal surgery—Discharge information

Wound care

  • Laparoscopic: The stitches are dissolvable and covered with a glue film which will peel off. Keep the wound clean and dry
  • Abdominal: Your wound is covered with a dressing which is to be removed 10 days after surgery or earlier if water gets under the dressing
  • If your wound shows any sign of infection (i.e. becomes red, painful, hot, swollen or there is wound discharge contact your GP)
  • A small amount of brown or pink vaginal discharge can be expected in the first few weeks. If bleeding becomes bright red, heavy or offensive smelling, contact our service or your GP. Alternatively visit the emergency department of your local hospital
  • Use sanitary pads for any blood loss, not tampons
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing—aim for cotton underwear and loose fitting clothing (1)

Pain management

Paracetamol (up to 8 tablets a day) and anti-inflammatory tablets (as prescribed) are the most common pain relief given after surgery. Stronger pain tablets (such as Panadeine or Endone) cause constipation but use as needed. (2)

Diet

Avoid constipation by:

  • drinking extra fluids, especially water
  • drinking pear or prune juice and add extra fibre to your diet
  • using laxatives (as directed by your doctor or pharmacist) to ensure bowel motions are soft and easy to pass with no straining. (3)

Activity

  • No heavy lifting (more than 3 kg) or carrying heavy objects (e.g. washing basket) for 6 weeks
  • Gentle exercise (walking in the park) can commence after 10 days and gradually increase till you regain pre-surgery fitness, however no jogging for 6 weeks
  • No sexual intercourse or swimming for 6 weeks to allow the stitches at the top of the vagina to heal
  • Continue wearing your TED stockings to avoid blood clots until you are back to full mobility (refer to blood clot brochure)
  • Driving: Once you feel able to turn the steering wheel, look over your shoulder and brake suddenly, you will be safe to drive (10-14 days). Check your insurance policy to ensure there are no exclusion clauses following surgery.
  • Return to work depends upon the type of work you do. Plan to take 2-4 weeks off work if you can sit for the majority of the time at work, but 6 weeks if your work involves lifting or standing for long periods.

Removal of lymph nodes

  • If your surgery included removal of the lymph nodes, there is a risk of developing lymphedema. Please discuss with the physiotherapist or nurse prior to going home. A lymphedema brochure is available on request.
  • Take care not to expose your legs and feet to sources of infection (4)

Going home with a catheter (Radical hysterectomy)

  • Because of the extent of the surgery the catheter may have to stay in for 7-10 days however this will not prevent you from going home
  • The nurse will teach you how to care for the catheter at home
  • You will be given an appointment to come back to the ward for removal of the catheter and a trial to ensure you can empty your bladder completely

Symptoms to seek advice for:

  • onset of shivers, fevers or chills
  • burning, stinging or frequency of urine
  • onset of sudden pains or shortness of breath
  • hot or painful area in your calf muscle
  • increased pain, bleeding, discharge or odour from the either the wound or the vagina. (2)

Follow-up appointments

  • The doctor will phone you with the pathology results following surgery. You will receive the phone call 7–10 days after your surgery (usually late on Monday afternoon or Tuesday)
  • A follow-up appointment will be scheduled 6-8 weeks post-surgery and sent out in the mail. Alternatively this follow-up appointment may be with your referring doctor or GP depending on your pathology results and where you live
  • If you need further treatments or an earlier appointment this will be arranged and you will be contacted

After discharge please contact Ward 8B via switch on 07 3163 8111 if you have any concerns.

References

  1. Fernandez R, Griffiths R. Water for Wound Cleansing. Cochrane Database of Systematic Review. 2012.
  2. Sandeep M. Evidence Summary: Post-operative care Nursing management. 2013.
  3. Slade S. Constipation Management. 2014.
  4. Finnane A, Hayes SC, Obermair A, Janda M. Quality of life of women with lower-limb lymphedema following gynecological cancer. Expert review of pharmacoeconomics & outcomes research. 2011;11(3):287-97.
Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-420095
Last modified 13/7/2017.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 22/6/2016
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