Posted by: Zita | 2009/05/31

Swollen feet after operation

my dad was hi-jacked and shot in the face. He had an operation to remove the bullet from his jaw and they also have wired his haw. He spent 6 days in ICU until the swelling in his face went down. They had him sedated the whole time. Then they moved him to general ward and he was awake. On day 8 they helped him out of bed to sit on a chair, his feet swelled up. He came home on day 10 and his feet were still swollen. They have gone down a bit but still not back to normal. Why did this happen and what can we do about it? Thank you!

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Our expert says:
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Hi Zita

Firstly, I'm sorry to hear about the incident and the traumatic effects you must all have experienced.

Swelling around the feet and ankles is due to fluid accumulation which can result from a number of different factors, including heart and kidney problems as well as lack of movement. If your Dad does not have a cardiac related problem, it is most likely that the fluid is due to lack of exercise.

When it comes to 'pushing' the blood to the extremities, the 'outbound' journey, the heart acts as a very efficient pump. However, on the 'inbound' journey back to the heart, the flow depends on muscle contraction to pump the blood.

With your Dad having been lying flat there was very little muscle contraction to return the blood so once he sat up there's a rapid 'pooling' of blood into the exrtremities and, in all probability, this is the main cause of the swelling.

It will help a lot if a. he keeps his legs up when sitting and then moves his feet up and down so as to cause enough muscle action to 'push' the blood upwards, and b. to walk as much as possible as this is an efficient way of working the calf muscles.

As he returns to full function the problem should resolve, but if it does persist be sure to check with his GP to ensure there is no other underlying medical problem.



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