Definition and Overview

Patients who have undergone diaphragm surgery are scheduled for follow-up consultations after the procedure. The number of follow-up sessions will depend on the patient’s recovery progress. Usually, if no complications are noted during the first follow-up, the patient will not be required to return unless certain symptoms develop at a later time. However, some cases may require continuous monitoring, making a long-term follow-up care plan necessary.

Patients who undergo any surgery, including those that involve the diaphragm, are strongly advised to keep their follow-up appointments to ensure their health and complete recovery.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

A follow-up consultation is scheduled to ensure the full recovery of all patients who underwent diaphragm surgery, which is commonly performed to:

  • Repair a congenital or acquired defect affecting the diaphragm
  • Repair a damaged or injured diaphragm due to trauma
  • Treat diaphragmatic hernia


Meanwhile, the goals of a post-surgical follow-up visit are to:

  • Check the overall condition of the patient
  • Assess the results of the surgery
  • Monitor the patient’s recovery progress
  • Check whether the patient requires pain management
  • Look for signs of complications or to make sure that none arises

How Does the Procedure Work

Diaphragm surgery follow-ups may be scheduled by the doctor a few days as well as a few weeks after the surgery if deemed necessary. These take place at the doctor’s clinic or office, and may take only 30 minutes, as tests are usually not performed during these visits, especially when the doctor does not see any possible signs of complications.

During the follow-up, the patient will be asked how he feels and if he is experiencing any symptom that could be related to the surgical procedure. Although diagnostic tests are no longer necessary at this point, the doctor may conduct simple blood tests, basic pulmonary function tests, as well as a physical examination. The patient’s scar or the incision that was made during the procedure will also be checked to see whether it is healing properly.

During the initial first follow-up visit, the doctor will explain the results of the surgery. It could be that the procedure was a success or the patient requires further treatment.

Before the visit ends, the doctor will provide further instructions such as when the patient can resume his normal activities, what kinds of exercises are safe to do and when it is safe to return to work, among others.

Possible Risks and Complications

Follow-ups following diaphragm surgery are crucial as any surgical procedure carries a certain amount of risk to the patient’s health and life. These risks include bleeding, blood loss, blood clots, pain and infection. These may be common, but in most cases they can be easily treated and even prevented with the pre-emptive use of pain medications and antibiotics.

However, thoracic surgery also comes with some unique risks, such as nerve injury, myocardial infarction and embolism, or when an artery is obstructed due to a blood clot or an air bubble. Surgery is also more likely to cause some complications if the patient has an existing health condition. All these are taken into consideration during a diaphragm surgery follow-up.

To help doctors provide accurate recommendations, patients must provide a list of all the symptoms they are experiencing, especially new ones that developed in between scheduled follow-ups. Through this, the doctor can detect possible risks and complications early and begin treatment as soon as possible.

Reference:

  • Keller RL, Guevara-Gallard S, Farmer DL. Surgical disorders of the chest and airways In: Gleason CA, Devaskar SU, eds. Avery's diseases of the newborn. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 49.
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