Question: How much will it hurt after bypass surgery, and what are 'pain pumps'?
Answer: Everyone wants to know, but many times they're a little too nervous to ask, "How much is it going to hurt?" So we just tell them right up front. On a scale up to ten, where ten is the worst pain the patient ever had, most people would say it's about a five.
They're sort of uncomfortable, especially the first two or three days after surgery. We are doing lots of things these days to try to minimize the amount of pain, a lot of minimally invasive surgery and heart surgery in general.
But also there are these things called pain pumps, and this is a pump that's about this big around that the patient has connected through a very tiny thin plastic catheter to the incision.
And for three days after surgery, it's continuously bathing the incision with medication like lidocaine or Marcane in this case. And it numbs up the incision so the patients have less local pain then they used to.
There've been randomized trials using these pumps showing that it actually decreases the pain quite a bit, so patients need less pain medicine, not as many narcotics.
Therefore they don't have the side effects from the pain medicine and narcotic. And the patients go home earlier after surgery because it makes their recovery a lot easier on them.