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What to Expect While Recovering after a HIFU Procedure

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HIFU, short for high intensity focused ultrasound, is a newer treatment that is used to help combat prostate cancer. It is an outpatient procedure that has been proven to be effective in eliminating cancer cells along the prostate. While it is important for men to know what goes on before and during a HIFU procedure, it is just as important to know what to expect during recovery, after the procedure.

Immediately after the procedure is completed, men will need to rest until the anesthetic has passed through their system. For men who received a spinal epidural, the resting period may take longer as it often takes several hours before feeling and movement is regained throughout the limbs. Most men are also prescribed pain relief medication for after the anesthetic wears off. Right after the procedure is done, men are outfitted with a catheter to assist them with emptying their bladder. Men will have to wear the catheter from anywhere between a few days to two weeks, depending on the procedure and the surgeon’s orders.

Because HIFU is an outpatient procedure, once the anesthetic wears off and the catheter is in place, men are able to leave the hospital. However, they will have to arrange to have a family member or a friend drive them home. It is also recommended that someone stay with the patient at home for the first 24 to 48 hours and help with taking pain medication, making food, bathing, and so on. As the man is leaving the hospital, a nurse will schedule a follow up appointment in a week or two and provide information on how to care for the catheter. Aside from prescriptions for pain medication, the nurse will also often prescribe antibiotics to ensure there is no development of an infection.

Once men get home, they should be aware of any side effects. A majority of them are temporary and are common after any kind of surgical procedure of this nature. Some of these side effects include blood in urine, passing of destroyed tissue from the prostate, and a difficulty urinating after the removal of the catheter. Men should contact their general practitioner or the hospital, however, if they are experiencing a very high temperature, an increased amount of blood in the urine, or lots of pain that cannot be controlled by pain medications. Men should also know of any complications that may occur as a result of HIFU, including urinary tract infections, stress incontinence, and impotence.

Recovery time for men who undergo HIFU treatment for prostate cancer differs from patient to patient. It depends on how much cancerous tissue there is on the prostate and how fast the body is able to heal after the procedure is complete. Men should expect to feel a bit weak during the recovery period and should stay at home and rest until they feel reenergized and their doctor gives them the go-ahead to reenter “normal life,” such as going back to work, picking up children, and even driving a car. 

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