Recovering from Pectus Surgery
Recovering in the Hospital
The Day of Surgery: You will receive IV pain medications as needed until you are able to tolerate oral medications. At that time you will be transitioned to oral pain medications. You are encouraged to sit up and practice deep breathing exercises.
The next morning: There will be a continued emphasis on coughing and deep breathing. You will have a chest x-ray in the morning. You will see the pectus team who will be monitoring your recovery. Your chest tube may be removed on this day. If your pain is controlled and you are able to tolerate oral intake you will likely be discharged or something to that effect.
The final day in the hospital: Mobility, pain management, chest x-ray, and discharge.
The majority of patients spend one day in the hospital after pectus surgery.
Recovering in Phoenix
The pectus team will see you approximately one week after your surgery for a follow-up exam. They will remove the stitch from the chest tube, and check your chest x-ray as well as answer any remaining questions. You will also be given a travel card that states you have metal bars in your chest and that MRIs can be performed. You will be discharged with a 2 week supply of narcotic pain medication and a 4 week supply of non-narcotic pain medications. Please make sure that you have established with a PCP at home. Regulations prevent prescribing certain medications across state lines and they may need their PCP to prescribe certain medications.
Recovering at Home
Some patients feel more comfortable sleeping with a wedge pillow for the first few weeks of recovery. Walking is encouraged, along with increasing your activity daily as tolerated. If you experience any emergent issues upon returning home please contact your local healthcare provider.
On-Q Pain Pump: If you are discharged from the hospital with the On-Q Pain Pump, you will be given an estimated time when the medication will end. You can either have the catheters removed at your post-op visit, or remove them yourself. Removal is not painful and many patients are comfortable removing the catheters themselves. (Please refer to the On-Q Pain Pump handout for further instructions http://www.myon-q.com/media/56290/mk-00456_patient-brochure_catheterremoval.pdf)
Medication: You will be discharged with a 4-week supply of pain medications. These should be identical to what you were taking in the hospital. Please continue with your pain medications as directed by the pectus team. Every patient has a different tolerance level for pain but most are ready to start weaning off them within two weeks.
Activity: You are encouraged to gradually start increasing your activity level every day. Make sure to listen to your body and stretch daily.
When to get a chest x-ray: After surgery, the bars must be monitored to ensure stability and correct positioning. This is done through x-rays. Patients need to have an x-ray taken at the 6-week mark, the six-month mark, and then annually until bar removal.
Around the 2.5 year mark call Dr. J's office to schedule bar removal