What is PCA?
PCA means Patient Controlled Analgesia.
Analgesia is a word doctors and nurses use that means pain relief. The PCA pump is used to give yourself pain relief medicine. This helps stop the pain you may feel after your operation.
Why has my doctor ordered a PCA Pump for me?
PCA is one of the many ways medicine for pain relief can be given. After your operation it is normal to have pain near the cut made by
the surgeon. It is important to stop strong pain because it may prevent you moving which may cause other problems such as blood
clots in the legs and infections.
By using the PCA pump you can give yourself pain relief medicine whenever you need it. It is better to have a small amount of pain relief medicine whenever you need it, instead of having one big injection at less frequent intervals.
What type of pain medicine is used in a PCA?
The most commonly used pain medicine in a PCA is morphine. If another type of pain medicine is used your doctor or nurse will discuss it with you.
How does the PCA pump work?
After the operation you will be on a drip. This runs fluid down a plastic tube into a vein in your arm. If you have pain, all you need to do is press a button. The pump then injects a small amount of medicine into the drip. Your doctor orders this amount of medicine.
When you press the button, wait a few minutes for the medicine to work. If it hasn't taken away the pain properly, you can press the button again.
Can anyone else press the button for me?
No, you are the only person allowed to press the button.
How will I know if I have had enough pain relief medicine?
You may have little pain and be able to move around easily.
You should be able to take a big breath, and cough without too much pain.
If you feel sleepy, you have had enough medicine. If you do feel sleepy don't use the button again unless the pain comes back.
How long will I need to use the PCA pump?
Everyone is different. It may be 2 or 3 days, and as time passes you will need less and less of the pain relief medicine.
When you are able to eat and drink the Acute Pain Service will change you over to an equal dose of pain medicine in tablet form.
Will the doctors and nurses know how much pain I have?
Yes, nurses caring for you will ask you regularly while you are in hospital about your pain. The Acute Pain Service, which is responsible for your pain management after your operation will check on your progress daily.
The doctors and nurses will ask to rate your pain using a score out of 10.
0 means no pain and 10 is the most severe pain you can imagine.
Things you should tell your nurse
If you have pain somewhere else, such as your legs or chest.
If your pain is getting worse
If you can not sleep or move around because it hurts
If you can not take a big breath or cough easily because it hurts
If you have any questions