How Chronic Kidney Disease Patients Can Improve Outcomes of Surgery and Recover Much Faster

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Many people with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) expect to go into surgery at some point in time. For instance, those who have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) must contend with surgery to implant an Arteriovenous Fistula, Peritoneal Dialysis Catheter, Central Venous Catheter or receive a Kidney Transplant. Matters are compounded when people with CKD contract an infection. Whether it is for a minor procedure or a major heart surgery (heart disease is leading cause of mortality in CKD), spending time in the hospital is never fun. Your main thoughts after coming out of surgery are about how fast healing will take place so you can get back to your "normal" life. Recovery times vary depending on the severity of your surgery, but individuals who have CKD can heal faster after any surgery if they follow a few helpful steps.

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Walking after surgery is one of the most important things you can do after having the procedure. It may seem like a simple thing, but a quick walk every hour or two can help prevent serious complications like deep vein thrombosis, pneumonia and a very common and annoying side effect of anesthesia, constipation.

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Keeping your pain under control is very important after surgery. Some CKD patients hesitate to take their pain medication as prescribed because they fear addiction, they may feel that taking pain medication is a sign of weakness or they do not like how they feel when they take prescription drugs. However, if you are in too much pain to cough, you are at risk for pneumonia. If you are in too much pain to walk, you are at risk for blood clots. Although no pain may be an unreasonable goal, keeping your pain at a tolerable level will speed the healing process. It is often easier to control pain if you take medication as prescribed. Waiting until the pain is severe and then taking pain medication results in a long wait for the drug to take effect. Good pain control can make it far easier to sleep, which also promotes healing.

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It turns out that if you have an abdominal incision, you can do some serious harm to it if you cough or sneeze the wrong way. A new incision is not very strong and a violent sneeze can actually cause a surgical incision to open. Bracing your incision, which means applying pressure, is essential when coughing, sneezing or even going to the bathroom.

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Look at your incision "several times" a day. Now there are procedures where this isn’t possible, but for the vast majority of procedures a mirror makes it possible to have a good look at the surgical site. Is your incision pink or red? Is there wound drainage and what color is it? Are the stitches or staples intact? These questions are very important and looking at your incision several times a day will help you determine if your surgical site is continuing to heal or if it has become infected.

Many people with CKD do not feel like eating after having surgery because they are nauseated, constipated or just not hungry. Staying hydrated (while maintaining any fluid restrictions) and eating a healthy diet after surgery can help promote healing, minimize common complications and help you get past unwanted side effects of anesthesia. Eat foods that help with wound healing before and after your surgery such as egg whites, brown rice, fish and chicken.

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CKD patients should not scrub their incision to remove scabs that form, or use alcohol/peroxide to keep the area free of germs unless your surgeon specifically instructs you to do so. Instead, a gentle wash with soap and water is more than adequate. It may not be pretty, but it is normal to have scabbing on your surgical staples and removing them could actually cause your incision to heal far more slowly. Soaking your incision in an effort to keep it clean can also be harmful, because it can weaken the incision line. Many surgeons recommend showers instead of baths following surgery and often forbid swimming during the early stages of recovery. In general, if you are bleeding, having trouble breathing, can’t keep food/water down, or you have obvious signs of infection, you need to see a doctor immediately.

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CKD patients, both Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis patients, need to be especially vigilant about keeping their access sites, catheters and incisions clean and infection-free. Be sure to follow all of your Surgeons instructions as well as keep your follow up doctor appointments.

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References: 

 

"Ten Ways To Improve Your Recovery After Surgery." About.com - Surgery.

"How to Heal Fast After Surgery." LIVESTRONG.COM.