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Thoracic Surgery

Frequenty Asked Questions


Post-operative care instructions:

When can I shower?
Unless otherwise specified  by your surgeon, it is ok to shower when you go home.  Do not take tub baths until after you see your doctor.

When can I drive?
Once you have stopped taking pain medications (narcotics), and your surgeon has given approval.

What can I eat?
You can return to your usual diet, unless otherwise instructed by your surgeon.

What do I do if I get constipated?
Pain medications, changes in diet, and inactivity can all lead to constipation.  Drink 8 glasses of water daily to stay hydrated.  Taking over the counter medications like Senekot, colace, MOM, or a bulking agent like Metamucil, Fibercon, or Citrocel.  If  you still do not move your bowels, using a fleets enema may help, but call your doctor first. 

How do I tell if my incision is infected?
If your incision is red, hot to the touch, or draining any fluid, call your surgeon.  Sometimes, there can be clear or reddish fluid that will drain from your chest tube site.  This can be normal.

When can I remove my dressing(s)?
The dressing on the chest tube site can be removed two days after the tube was removed.  If  there is any drainage, you can place a bandaid or a small gauze dressing.  Your surgeon may have used a ‘skin glue’ on your incision.  The skin glue will start to flake off approximately one week after surgery.  Any small paper strips (steri-strips) can be removed after five days, if they have not already fallen off.

What do I do if I have a fever?
Some pain medications  can give some people ‘sweats’.  You are encouraged to continue using your breathing machine from the hospital.  If your temperature is 101.0 or higher, call your surgeon.

What happens if I cough up blood?
Your phlegm may be streaked with blood, or you may bring up dark, old appearing blood.  This is normal after a lung resection or biopsy.  If you cough up bright red blood, call your surgeon.

What kinds of activity can I participate in after leaving the hospital?
It is important to take daily walks. It is ok to go up and down stairs.  Do not do any pushing, pulling, or lift anything heavier than 5-10 lbs.  No swimming until approved by your surgeon.

Can I get my pathology report over the phone?
It is office policy not to give this information out over the phone.

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