You may be taken to the intensive care ward or high-dependency unit for about 24 hours. This is because the liver has a very good blood supply and there is a risk that it may bleed after surgery. The doctors and nurses will monitor you by keeping a close check on your blood pressure.
Drips and tubes
You may have some of the following for a few days:
- A drip (infusion) into a vein in your arm or neck to give you fluids until you’re eating and drinking again.
- A thin tube going into your back to give you painkilling drugs that numb the nerves and stop you feeling sore. This is called an epidural (see below).
- A tube that goes up your nose and down into your stomach (nasogastric tube). The nurses use this to remove fluid so you don’t feel sick.
- A drainage tube to remove fluid from your wound, allowing it to heal properly.
- A small, flexible tube going into your bladder to drain urine into a bag. This is called a urinary catheter.
You’re likely to have some pain and discomfort after your operation, but this can be controlled effectively with painkillers. It’s important to let your doctor know as soon as possible if the pain isn’t controlled so that your painkillers can be changed.
To start with you’ll need a strong painkiller, such as morphine. This can be given to you by injection or through a pump attached to a needle in your arm which you control yourself. This is called Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) and you will be shown how to use it.
You may be given painkillers through an epidural for a few days after your operation. A small tube is inserted in your back into the space just outside the membranes surrounding your spinal cord. A local anaesthetic can be given continuously into this space to numb the nerves in the operation area.
You’ll have a dressing over your wound(s), which may be left undisturbed for the first few days. After this you will usually have the dressings changed if there is any leakage from the wound. If necessary you can have any stitches or staples removed after you have gone home. This will be done by a district nurse in your own home or at your GP surgery.
Always let your doctor know if your wound becomes hot, painful or starts to leak fluid, as these are possible signs of infection.