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The Undiagnosed Stroke: What to Look for After Surgery

| Oct 11, 2013 | Brain Injuries

While most people know that there are risks involved with surgery, did you know that one of the most common risks involves a brain injury?  The reason for a surgery can be frightening enough—but the complications of a stroke following the surgery can be just as scary. 

Surgeries related to cardiology, neurology, and pulmonary conditions have the highest risk of a post-operative stroke.  Complicating things further, a stroke may not be visible to medical personnel right away.  Many of the indications of a stroke closely resemble normal surgical recovery side effects so a stroke is also often undiagnosed. 

With a stroke, time is of the essence as lasting effects can be minimized with medication.  The following signs and symptoms can help to determine if a stroke has occurred:

  • Numbness – After a surgery, a patient may complain of numbness isolated to one side of the body, such as the left arm or hand.  Some patients may have complete impairment and not be able to move a limb or an area of the face at all. 
  • Confusion – Normal anesthesia can leave patients with mild confusion or drowsiness for a few hours after a surgery.  However, if the confusion persists, gets increasingly worse, or the patient is unable to remember who or where they are, this may be a sign of a stroke.
  • Blurred Vision and Slurred Speech – If a patient complains of blurred vision or has slurred speech, these are not standard recovery effects and may be signs that a stroke has occurred.  Check to see if the patient is staring off to the side or has an inability to focus, droopy eyelids, difficulty pronouncing words, and stutters.  All of these are possible stroke indicators. 
  • Lack of Coordination – Many patients are unable to get out of bed for a while after surgery.  After being allowed to get up, being unstable at first is completely normal.  If, however, the instability persists and the patient cannot support himself or herself, falls easily, or cannot walk straight, further evaluation is necessary. 
  • Headaches – Mild discomfort in the head is a normal part of anesthetic recovery, but a sudden pain or overwhelming discomfort is not considered normal.  Additional stroke symptoms can include tunnel vision, blackouts, isolated pain, and pressure in the head.

If you or a loved one experienced a stroke after surgery in Virginia, contact the brain injury lawyers at Shevlin Smith.  Our Fairfax attorneys can help answer your questions.  Call us at 703-721-4233 today.