Children's Health and Wellness

Discomforts and Complications After a Child Has Surgery

What are common discomforts after surgery?

The amount of discomfort after surgery depends on the type of surgery done. Some typical discomforts include:

  • Nausea and vomiting from general anesthesia

  • Soreness in the throat. This can happen if the child had a ventilator in place during the surgery. A ventilator helps with breathing.

  • Soreness and swelling around the incision site

  • Restlessness and sleeplessness

  • Thirst

  • Constipation and gas

What are possible complications after surgery?

Sometimes complications can occur after surgery. Here are some possible complications:

  • Shock. Shock is a dangerous drop in blood flow throughout the body. Shock is most often caused by low blood pressure.

  • Bleeding. Blood loss from the site of surgery can lead to shock.

  • Wound infection. An infection can happen when bacteria enter the incision site. Infections can delay healing.

  • Lung problems.  A lack of deep breathing during surgery can lead to lung problems. Your child's doctor may recommend deep-breathing exercises to help keep the lungs healthy after surgery.

  • Urinary problems. Your child may not be able to empty his or her bladder after surgery. This is caused by the anesthesia. This problem usually goes away soon.

  • Reaction to anesthesia. Although rare, reactions to anesthesia do occur.

How are discomforts and complications after surgery treated?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

How likely complications happen varies with each child and with each surgery. Ask your child's healthcare provider if you need more information.

Print Source: Postoperative Care of Patients Undergoing Same-Day Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy. Brenner P. AORN Journal. 2015;102(1):15-29.
Print Source: Sepsis and Septic Shock. Merck Manual Professional Version.
Print Source: Textbook of Pediatric Care. Maxwell LG. 2009, part 3, section 4, p. 63.
Online Source: Who will hold my hand? A guide for parents whose child needs an operation, American College of Surgeons
Online Editor: Sinovic, Dianna
Online Medical Reviewer: Adler, Liora C, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2016
© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.