Vascular Surgery/surgery for aneurysm
My husband had surgery in June for a ruptured aortic aneurysm in the belly. And another surgery a month later for a blood clot in the stent graft. Both surgeries for done through the groin. My question is: his whole one leg is doubled in size. Doesn't interfere with anything. The doctor told him that it could last a year or more, but didn't tell him what causes it and he didn't ask. Why is it swollen?
well i really am not sure what could be wrong that would last a year but as i have talked about before there is a postoperative event that is called reperfusion edema, means swelling after bypass. during the months/years before surgery the bloodflow has been diminished, when bloodflow is increased due to a good bypass, the leg is suddenly getting way more blood (a fluid) than it has had in a long time. You cant stop it because it is a direct result of the bypass. This increased bloodflow is what makes the leg feel better when you walk or sleep, heal any wounds, makes your skin more supple, increases the fat pads on the sole of your foot. it does all kinds of good things and for that increased bloodflow you have to alter your daily routine for a few weeks.
first though, i suggest you phone his surgeon to ask if these are acceptable interventions from his point of view, because you aren't a patient of our clinic, so i can only give general information to reduce swelling. Also ask him or his nurse what the schedule is for your bypass scans in the future. at our clinic we do an ultrasound to assess the status of the bypass- we do ultrasound at 1 month, 3, 6, 12, 18 months post op and then annually or twice yearly depending on the function of the bypass. by keeping an eye on the bypass w/ ultrasound scan, it is possible to prevent narrowing of your bypass- recurrence is possible for a variety of reasons- progression of disease can diminish the function, even block it off totally- once blocked, it is less likely to be fixed with a minimally invasive technique like angioplasty or lysis (open up with bloodthinning IV medications...
usually.....reperfusion edema can last from a few days to a few weeks. IF the doc says it is ok he can use a MILD compression stocking one that is like 10-12 or 15 to 20 mm pressure, if there is an incision along the knee, he may not be able to wear this stocking but could use an acewrap. if doc says it is OK then he would have to put this stocking (or acewrap) on BEFORE you get out of bed, i know this sounds like a hassle but if you put them on before he gets out if bed -dont even get out to make coffee, go to bathroom anything- set the alarm a few minutes ahead and shower at night if he has to.
compression cannot correct swelling, it can only be prevented with compression, when in bed all night, your legs are the skinniest they will be all day, by putting them on now, you won't have the edema you have now. you can get mild compression at a drug store or medical supply company or even online, you want a 8-12 mm or 10-20 millimeters of pressure. this is the one you must ask the doc about because compression is contraindicated ion patients with arterial bypass because it too tight they can actually decrease the bloodflow- dont let that scare you just ask and do as he says.
the other thing is to elevate during the day if he can, if you can't then, instead of standing or sitting still, while sitting activate the muscle pumps in calf and foot by: do some ankle flexes -point toes out towards the wall and hold a few seconds then to point to your face..and raise heel off floor then raise up so the ball of your foot is extended, like a half tiptoe stance-and repeat- this will push the blood back up to the heart through the veins, these "pumps in the foot and calf are the only physiologic system to return blood to the heart, so it will make a difference.
when standing shift weight from foot to foot, do some toetips again and exercise that calf muscle. when home again, raise / elevate the leg some- but be aware elevation especially at night while in bed can make your leg feel worse , just lying in bed is better than elevated UNLESS YOUR DOC said to do it. take your stocking off when ready to get ready for bed, put on again in the AM before you get out of the bed. i think that you will do better with some of these ideas, but before you implement them be sure to call his office and ask him or his nurse.
Also ask him or his nurse what the schedule is for your bypass scans in the future. at our clinic we do an ultrasound to assess the status of the bypass- we do ultrasound at 1 month, 3, 6, 12, 18 months post op and then annually or twice yearly depending on the function of the bypass.
by keeping an eye on the bypass w/ ultrasound scan, it is possible to prevent narrowing of your bypass- recurrence is possible for a variety of reasons-best to be aware the status of the bypass
hope this helps