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PCA Pumps
post operative pain control



What is PCA?  It is the abbreviation for "patient controlled analgesia".

What does a PCA pump do? A PCA pump allows you to give yourself pain killing drugs whenever you need them and without having to wait for the nurse to bring an injection.  

When do I get the PCA pump? When you awake after your operation you will be connected up to the PCA pump.  

How does it work?  When you feel pain you press the white button on the handset, which will be in your hand (this is connected to the PCA pump). You will hear a beep to confirm that the pump has acknowledged this request. The pump delivers the drug down a fine length of tubing to the drip in your arm.   

Does a PCA pump always administer the drug when I press the button? No! The pump is programmed to allow the drug to exert its effect (it takes a few minutes). After this period, if you are in pain the pump will allow you to have another dose of pain killers.

How much pain control should I try to get? Most patients aim to get as comfortable as possible, without getting too drowsy.  

Why is PCA better than conventional treatment methods? You get your pain killer immediately when you need it , as often as you need it and it acts rapidly. If you dislike injections PCA is an extra bonus. Furthermore, patients with good pain control tend to make faster progress and, on average, leave hospital earlier.  

How long will I be on the PCA pump? You can have the pump for as long as you need it. Most patients progress to oral medication after a couple of days.

 Will PCA help me to cope with physiotherapy and other nursing procedures? Yes! You can get pain relief before, during and after many procedures using PCA.

Is it safe? PCA pumps have been in use for many years now and they incorporate a number of safety features. If used sensibly, they are very safe.  

Can I overdose myself? Provided you only press the button when you feel pain it is virtually impossible to overdose yourself.  

Will I become addicted? You will only be on PCA for a relatively short period of time. Addiction is therefore highly unlikely.  

What are the side effects? The main side effect is the same one you might experience after repeated injections of pain killers from the nurse. This is drowsiness, but it is usually much less intense.  

Does using the PCA pump mean that the nurses will pay less attention to me? On the contrary. The nurses will have more time to monitor your condition while you are on the pump, and attend to your other needs.



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