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surgery recovery room

Alternative Names 
recovery room, post-anaesthesia care unit, PACU

The surgery recovery room is an area of a hospital used for the close monitoring of people who have had an operation in which anaesthesia was given. The recovery room may also be used to perform special procedures. Occasionally, people come from other parts of the hospital, such as the X-ray department, following a procedure that involved sedation.

What is the information for this topic? 
The recovery room is usually located next door to the operating room. This allows for the safe transfer of people. There is also ready access to surgeons and the anaesthesia department. As a person starts to wake up from surgery, they are taken to the recovery room until the effects of anaesthesia have worn off.

The first few minutes in the recovery room are usually confusing. It is not unusual for people to wake up in the recovery room and have no idea where they are. People go from a deep sleep or heavy sedation to a room they have never seen before. For most people, the only thing they will remember is the last few minutes before surgery. An oxygen mask may be in place when the person wakes up. The intravenous or IV that was put in before surgery will still be in place. The blood pressure, pulse, breathing rate, and temperature are monitored closely. Nausea is very common when people first wake up. Vomiting sometimes occurs. Analgesia is given as needed.

The recovery room is often busy with activity. New people come into the room after surgery as others are leaving. There may be loud beeping noises made by the different monitoring machines.

When the person is ready for discharge from the recovery room, they will either go to the surgical inpatient unit, the intensive care unit or the same-day surgery area. They will continue to recover and will be sent home when appropriate.

Author: Adam Brochert, MD
Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 19/06/2005
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

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