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5 days post op and severe constipation

tracibennttracibenn Posts: 95
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:50 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had my 360 last tuesday, and a requirement to be discharged from the hospital was to have a bowel movement. After 2 days of colace and chugging some prune juice, I was able to go home on Friday. Now, here I sit 5 days later with not even a hint of a bowel movement. I've tried dulcolax, colace, prune juice, and dried prunes. I drink water all day, walk around, etc. At what point does constipation become worrysome? I am not sure if i should call the doctor or not. What would you do?



  • I had the same problem. You are doing what you can, but I ended up getting a fleet enema from the drug store/discount store. It just seems to get stuff moving better. Not bad for you, and they are pretty effective fairly fast. Directions are simple, you just need someone to help you with it. Good Luck
  • Thanks...hopefully an enema will be the last resort. Im chugging water and eating some more dried prunes. Keeping my fingers crossed!
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  • With not just the anesthesia (higher dosing narcotics like Fentanyl) and pain meds, but with a 360 during the anterior portion (ALIF) they kind of move the bowel around - sometimes retracted even out of your body. Your colon does not like this - and the result between the handling of the colon and the meds is called a paralytic ileus.

    I went 7 days without a BM - I will never forget that - felt like a birthing when I had that first BM, I had drenching sweats, a small rectal tear bleeding that I so concerned with about that I took some antibiotics for fear of getting hardware infected through my blood stream.
    To me honesty, I found OTC Miralax (yes, its expensive, but worth it) to be the answer, as well as dried apricots.

    I'm not a big fan of colace or pericolace because it gives cramps & bad gas. If you feel you are "right on the verge" of a BM, buy some vinyl gloves, and glycerin suppositories - but stay about 10 feet within a bathroom because when it works it works quick. There is a also a tea called "smooth moves" - used to only be on drugstore.com but recently found in on my local grocery store aisles.

    Good luck, but if you go beyond 7 days without BM, please call your doc. Bowel obstructions can perforate, which can cause sepsis (bacteria in the bloodstream and the abdominal cavity- very seriously and potentially life threatening, and occasionally need manual disimpaction in an ER (do you want someone's fist up you rectum?). I didn't thinks so, so try the Miralax. I too saw enemas as last resort, but doing suppository with a glove not too bad/gross, other than the twisting/bending compromise. Good luck.
  • BTDT. I had to have an enema at the hospital and found it less awful than I expected- so at home I knew that was an alternative. But actually, what saved me was laxative suppositories.

    Also, I bought some fiber bars and ate a couple every day- I didn't have much appetite and knew things were slow.
  • I had ACDF on 12/9/10. Constipation was one cf my biggest issues. I took what ever they gave me in the hospital to help the flow. All I know is I felt so much pain and discomfort I thought my appendix was going to burst. I do not know what to expect as this was my first surgery. No one is honest about the effect of anesthesia and pain meds on the system. I had to take suppositories before my first movement which must have been well more than a week. I took stool softeners for a long time. I do not think my system was back until at least 6 weeks post op.
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  • Call your doctor and ask if it is ok to take a mild-laxative with the meds you are on. Correctol (?sp) is a mild one for women that will work to get things in motion.

    But keep trying what you are doing - water, movement, fiber foods, and colace. I found the movement was the thing I was missing. so I did my 10 min easy walks.
  • Thanks for all the advice everyone! Wanna know what did the trick? Diet Coke! I've always drank diet coke and it was like coffee in the morning (made me go). I haven't had any in a while so I told my husband to bring some home. After 1/4 of the can...BINGO! I feel SO much better!

  • Traci:

    I realize that this thread has reached a conclusion because you had discovered a solution, but I wanted to add a comment just in case others may read the thread. The pain meds and restricted mobility gave me constipation as well. I used a cheap, Kroger brand laxative to little avail. What I found to be very effective was a Pepsi (had not consumed any carbonated soda in over a month) and about 1/3 of a box of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies. Best tasting and most effective laxative I have discovered.

  • found at the drug store for about $2-3. It works quite well. Stay close to the bathroom once you drink the second half of the bottle. It will unplug and clean your insides all in 1 shot. :-)
  • I had several really, and I mean really, bad sessions in the loo after my latest round of surgery. You'd think I would have learned my lesson and started at least eating some simple stuff before surgery and perhaps either a can of prune juice before or right after surgery. I left it too long. Actually what happened is I had a decent BM right after surgery, so I foolishly thought I was okay.


    The concern with medicine laxatives is that the body will need them to regulate after using them too often, so natural is best. Prune juice is really good. Not only will keep things flowing nicely, it is natural and good for you in general. The only thing is I can't stand the taste of it. Well what works great is to dilute it slightly and add several drops of concentrated lemon juice or squeeze some fresh lemon in....voila....very tasty.

    I also find the smell of it pungent and it makes me cough....... not good after surgery. How I get around that is I breath in and hold my breath while drinking it and I make sure I drink the whole 8oz. That way my first action is to exhale so I can lower the glass before breathing in the "fumes" of the juice.

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