Pregnancy is certainly not the optimum time to have a surgical procedure however there are certain conditions when it is necessary. The most compelling reasons to have surgery while pregnant include acute appendicitis, gallstones that block the bile duct, torsion or twisting of an ovarian tumor and trauma to the abdomen that results in damage of an internal organ, bleeding or the threat of harm to the unborn fetus.
Appendicitis is sometimes difficult to diagnose during pregnancy however the location of pain is helpful regarding making the diagnosis. Patients with appendicitis sometimes have fever and abnormal lab results but this is not always the case. Although the appendix is usually on the lower right side of the abdomen during pregnancy is shifts towards the middle. Therefore, when attempting to make the diagnosis, a physician will examine the patient lying down and also tilted to her left side. If the pain shifts to the left side, the pain is probably from the uterus and not the appendix.
The safest time for a pregnant woman to have surgery is during the second trimester. An epidural or spinal anesthesia is safer than general anesthesia for many reasons. It is more difficult to place a breathing tube down a pregnant woman’s throat because hormone’s make the throat smaller. The patient also has an increased risk of aspirating or having food or liquid in her windpipe as opposed to her stomach.
There should always be an obstetrician and pediatrician consultant on hand prior to and during the surgical procedure, especially if the patient is in her third trimester. According to the latest medical literature, there are no anesthetic medications that cause birth defects to the unborn fetus, provided the surgery is not done during the first trimester. The heart tone of the fetus should always be monitored during surgery. Because a pregnant woman has an increased risk of developing blood clots, it is strongly advisable to wear “compression” stockings during a procedures. These stockings are available in the hospital and compress or squeeze the blood vessels in the legs to promote better circulation.
Following these suggestions will greatly improve your chances of having a surgical procedure that will not adversely affect your pregnancy. Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.