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The Experience

A Caregiver's Guide: Recognizing & Preventing Potential Complications

A few risks pose potential serious complications after surgery. These include infections, blood clots, pulmonary embolus and hip dislocation. Each of these conditions presents common symptoms to watch for:   

Signs of Infection:

  • Increased swelling and redness at incision site.
  • Change in color, amount, odor of drainage.
  • Increased pain in hip.
  • Fever greater than 100.5º F.

Signs of Blood Clots:

  • Swelling in thigh, calf or ankle that does not go down with elevation.
  • Pain, heat and tenderness in the calf, back of the knee or groin area.
  • NOTE: blood clots can form in either leg.

Prevention of Blood Clots:

  • Foot and ankle pump
  • Walking
  • Compression stockings
  • Blood thinners such as Coumadin® or Heparin

Pulmonary Embolus: Of Special note: Pulmonary embolus can be life-threatening. Call 911 if you suspect the patient may be suffering from pulmonary embolus.

Signs of a Pulmonary Embolus:

  • Sudden chest pain
  • Difficult and/or rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Confusion

Signs of Dislocation:

  • Severe pain
  • Rotation/shortening of leg
  • Unable to walk/move leg

Prevention of Dislocation:

  • DO NOT cross legs
  • DO NOT twist side-to-side
  • DO NOT bend at the hip past 90 degrees 
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