Recovery After Pediatric Liver Transplant Surgery
The recovery period after pediatric liver transplant surgery begins in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and continues throughout your child's hospital stay. Once your child is transferred to a room on a surgical unit, the atmosphere will be more relaxed, because surgical unit patients no longer need the continuous monitoring that they needed in the PICU. However, your child's physicians and nurses will continue to monitor his vital signs and progress — and you, too, can play a role in helping your child's recovery go smoothly. You can help your child with:
Walking, which helps build strength, stimulates the gastrointestinal system and encourages bowel movements. Take your child for walks around the room and hallway; you'll notice he becomes more active with each passing day.
Coughing and deep breathing exercises
, which helps prevent fluid buildup in the lungs. The nurse will help your child with these exercises and may teach him to use an incentive spirometer
, a plastic container that helps him take deeper breaths.
, which provides the calories your child needs to heal and grow following surgery. When your child is allowed to eat, he will make a gradual transition from clear liquids to solid foods. It's important that your child eat well-balanced meals, so a nutritionist will meet with you to help you develop a good diet plan. If he can't eat enough to get adequate nutrition, your child may receive nutritional supplements through a nasogastric tube
or an IV
Relaxation and play
, which is an important part of your child's physical and emotional recovery. The Child Life
specialist will help your child find toys and games to play with during the recovery period.
Reviewed by: Elizabeth B. Rand, MD
Date: November 2012