Ask Dr. Nandi: Sergio Marchionne and the complications that can happen after surgery

Posted at 3:49 PM, Jul 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-23 18:13:54-04

Question: While we don’t know what happened with Sergio Marchionne, what kind of complications can happen following surgery?

This is very tragic and I feel for the family of Sergio Marchionne. As a practicing physician myself, we do our very best to prepare patients in regards to what they can expect following surgery, and that includes potential complications. When I say complications, that means things that may happen that aren’t part of the typical healing process. For instance, some people can experience shock. This can be caused by blood loss, a brain injury, metabolic issues or infection. Now, wound infections are typically minor but some can become quite bad and life-threatening. They happen when bacteria enters the surgical area and infections can spread to organs and other tissue. Some people can have reactions to anesthesia, which can affect your breathing, suppress your urge to cough and allow mucus to build in the lungs. A real concern can be blood clots that form in a limb or part of the body. This can be very dangerous if the clot breaks free and lands in your lungs, which can cut off blood flow causing a potentially life-threatening Pulmonary Embolism.  
Question: If someone thinks they’re having complications, what should they do?

If something doesn’t feel right, call your doctor. But if you experience shortness of breath, rapid breathing, fast heartbeat, fever, or chest pain – these are signs that it’s a medical emergency and you need care immediately. I would also stress the importance of discussing your health history in detail prior to any surgeries, and to eat nutritiously and get moving following your surgery as soon as it’s safe to do so. These will all help tremendously when it comes to your recovery.