What happens after surgery?

As you awaken in the recovery room, you will be receiving medications through IVs in your arm and near your neck. A Foley catheter tube will be in your bladder to keep an accurate record of your urine output. It is normal after surgery to see blood or clots in your urine, so you should not be alarmed by their presence. Your urine will be measured hourly. Some patients experience bladder spasms caused by the catheter. Tell the nurse if you feel any bladder discomfort, and she/he will give you a suppository. The catheter will be removed about three days after your surgery.

Patients commonly have nausea and an uncomfortable, full feeling after surgery. To prevent this, you may have a tube through your nose into your stomach. When you regain normal bowel function and you begin to pass gas, the tube will be removed and you will be able to eat and drink again.

After surgery fluid can build-up in your lungs. To help prevent this, coughing and deep breathing exercises are started after surgery. You will be encouraged to use a breathing device, called a Tri-Flow, on your own. It measures your breathing and encourages you to take deep breaths. This helps clear your lungs of fluid. Getting out of bed and not smoking are also important.

What will my day be like in the hospital?

Days will be busy in the hospital. Nurses will check your blood pressure and urine output frequently. Blood will be drawn every day so that your kidney function can be monitored and your medicines adjusted. Your vital signs – temperature, respirations and pulse – are taken regularly throughout the day and night. Your stools will be checked daily for any signs of blood. Each day before breakfast, a nurse will check your weight.

You should wear the same clothes and weigh on the same scales every day so that this measurement can be as accurate as possible. This is an important habit you should continue after discharge from the hospital, since weight gain is a sign of possible rejection.

From time to time, you may have x-rays taken of your kidney, either a renal scan to determine blood flow or a sonogram to actually show the kidney. These are painless procedures.

As you become able, you will be taught to measure exactly how much fluid you drink and how much fluid you put out each day. This is an important measure of your kidney’s function. You may have to get up several times during the night to pass your urine. This is because your bladder has not stretched to hold larger amounts of fluid. To check for bladder infections, you will occasionally collect a clean catch urine specimen.

At first, nurses and technicians will perform many of the routine tests, such as vital signs and weight. However, many of these will gradually become your responsibility. After surgery, your diet will be clear liquids, followed by a regular or diabetic diet.

Even with all of this activity, you may still have time on your hands during your hospital stay. Hobbies, television and radio may help you pass the time. Your family is able to visit throughout your hospital stay, but anyone entering your room will be required to wear a mask. This is known as protective isolation, and it is for your protection. Since your immune system is weakened by drugs, you are more vulnerable to the germs other people carry.

Haisch, Carl E., MD
Harland, Robert C., MD
Morgan, Claire, MD