Thoracotomy

Care After

Refer to this sheet in the next few weeks. These instructions provide you with information on caring for yourself after your procedure. Your caregiver may also give you more specific instructions. Your treatment has been planned according to current medical practices, but problems sometimes occur. Call your caregiver if you have any problems or questions after your procedure.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Remove the bandage (dressing) over your chest tube site as directed by your caregiver.

  • It is normal to be sore for a couple weeks following surgery. See your caregiver if this seems to be getting worse rather than better.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver. It is very important to take pain medicine when you need it so that you will cough and breathe deeply enough to clear mucus (phlegm) and expand your lungs. This helps prevent a lung infection (pneumonia).

  • If it hurts to cough, hold a pillow against your chest when you cough. This may help with the discomfort. In spite of the discomfort, cough frequently.

  • Taking deep breaths keeps lungs inflated and protects against pneumonia. Most patients will go home with a device called an incentive spirometer that encourages deep breathing.

  • You may resume a normal diet and activities as directed.

  • Use showers for bathing until you see your caregiver, or as instructed.

  • Change dressings if necessary or as directed.

  • Avoid lifting or driving until you are instructed otherwise.

  • Make an appointment to see your caregiver for stitch (suture) or staple removal when instructed.

  • Do not travel by airplane for 2 weeks after the chest tube is removed.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You are bleeding from your wounds.

  • Your heartbeat seems irregular.

  • You have redness, swelling, or increasing pain in the wounds.

  • There is pus coming from your wounds.

  • There is a bad smell coming from the wound or dressing.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have a fever.

  • You develop a rash.

  • You have difficulty breathing.

  • You develop any reaction or side effects to medicines given.

  • You develop lightheadedness or feel faint.

  • You develop shortness of breath or chest pain.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.