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Thread: Numbness in right arm after surgery

  1. #1
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    Default Numbness in right arm after surgery

    When I woke up from the surgery my immediate complaint was numbness in my right arm. It felt like it fell asleep. I was told by the surgeon that they used my right subclavian artery to connect me to the heart/lung machine. This probably damaged my Ulnar nerve. It has gotten better but I still have pain in my whole arm and numbness on the outer side.
    Anyone experience this and how long did it last?
    -Lon
    July 12, 2010 surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital - Dr. Plestis, http://aorticwellnesscenter.org/ - Bovine valve, aortic root, ascending aorta replacement and ramus intermedius stenosis bypassed with saphenous vein. July 23rd Pericardial effusion drained.

  2. #2
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    I did not have this one, but it must be annoying!
    Maryka

    Aortic Root replacement, Dec. 23, 2008, Johns Hopkins, Dr. Duke Cameron
    St. Jude mechanical valve with dacron tube for aneurysm.

  3. #3

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    Do you have a seperate incision for the heart lung machine, or did they hook it up in your incision they made to work on your heart? Justin Didn't have his subclavian artery used, but did have a 3-4 inch incision at his groin (where they do caths) for the bypass machine on his 5th OHS and had pain and numbness in his leg, it gradually (over a couple months) got better but in the beginiing it botherred him more than his sternal incision that was a full incision. I know others who had a second incision for the heart/lung and many (most?) have problems with either pain or numbness or both. Most people that have a 2nd incision is because they have a min invasive surgery and the tubes won't fit in the smaller incisions.
    IF you didn't have a different incision for the machine, and just had the regular incision, then it is also pretty common to have pain or numbness in your arms or neck/back ect, it is usually because of the position they have your body in all those hours while they have to open for the surgery
    Last edited by Lynlw; August 6th, 2010 at 12:51 PM.
    Lyn
    Mom to Justin 25 TGA,VSDs, pulmonary atresia/stenosis ect, post/Rastelli, 5 OHS, pacer in and out ... and surgery w/muscle flap for post op infection (sternal osteomyelitis with mediastinitis) www.caringbridge.org/nj/justinw

  4. #4
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    I had a separate incision in my right shoulder for the heart/lung machine. It was also mentioned that the positioning of my arms may have also damaged the nerve.
    July 12, 2010 surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital - Dr. Plestis, http://aorticwellnesscenter.org/ - Bovine valve, aortic root, ascending aorta replacement and ramus intermedius stenosis bypassed with saphenous vein. July 23rd Pericardial effusion drained.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by LonMel View Post
    I had a separate incision in my right shoulder for the heart/lung machine. It was also mentioned that the positioning of my arms may have also damaged the nerve.
    Did you have a minimally invasive surgery? Most people that I know that have the separate incision either has the min invasive, or the surgery is a Multiple REDO that has alot of internally scarring that can be a problem. I'm curious did you know going into surgery you would have 2 incisions? When Justin had both his 4th and 5th OHS during the preop testing, they did ultrasounds of both his carodids and both sides of his groin to make sure they were fine (no blockages, scarring ect) to use for the heart lung machine incase they needed to. When they discussed it Justin said IF they needed to use either spot, he would really prefer for them to use the groin area if it was possible, because he rather not have another scar that is easy to see. The 4th surgery they didn't need to , but they did for the 5th. It made it a little tougher to get all his walking in and getting up and down from the chair or bed, but said he was still glad they used the groin.
    The reason I asked if you knew about it, is it seems like some people are surprised to wake up and find they have a 2nd incision. For Justin's leg the pain/ soreness went away pretty in a week or so, but the numbness took a while. The numb area gradually got smaller and smaller and one day he realized it wasn't numb at all. From what I remember that seems to be what others experienced also. So hopefully your will feel better soon.
    Last edited by Lynlw; August 6th, 2010 at 09:09 AM.
    Lyn
    Mom to Justin 25 TGA,VSDs, pulmonary atresia/stenosis ect, post/Rastelli, 5 OHS, pacer in and out ... and surgery w/muscle flap for post op infection (sternal osteomyelitis with mediastinitis) www.caringbridge.org/nj/justinw

  6. #6
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    I had the full sternotomy and this was my first surgery. I am actually happy that my groin wasn't used (I was prepped there just in case). When I had my cardiac cath I specifically used a interventionalist who specialized in using the arm. I guess I'm mostly surprised at having the numbness and pain in the arm. It bothers me more than the chest! It makes typing difficult and initially I had problems eat with my right hand.
    July 12, 2010 surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital - Dr. Plestis, http://aorticwellnesscenter.org/ - Bovine valve, aortic root, ascending aorta replacement and ramus intermedius stenosis bypassed with saphenous vein. July 23rd Pericardial effusion drained.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by LonMel View Post
    I had the full sternotomy and this was my first surgery. I am actually happy that my groin wasn't used (I was prepped there just in case). When I had my cardiac cath I specifically used a interventionalist who specialized in using the arm. I guess I'm mostly surprised at having the numbness and pain in the arm. It bothers me more than the chest! It makes typing difficult and initially I had problems eat with my right hand.
    Yes Justin's leg bothered him more than his chest. He says his chest usually is more sore than painful, but this was pain (well except for the numb part). That's interesting they did a full sternum and a 2nd incision for the heart/lung for a first surgery.
    Lyn
    Mom to Justin 25 TGA,VSDs, pulmonary atresia/stenosis ect, post/Rastelli, 5 OHS, pacer in and out ... and surgery w/muscle flap for post op infection (sternal osteomyelitis with mediastinitis) www.caringbridge.org/nj/justinw

  8. #8
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    This is one variation on OHS that puzzles me.

    Most of us that have full sternotomy, don't have a separate incision for heart lung machine. They connect through the open chest.
    I wonder why all surgeons don't do it that way? I am sure there is some technical reason about which I have no clue.

    Hoping you feel better soon, LonMel.... that you heal well and the pain passes quickly.
    Best Wishes.

  9. #9
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    Thank you all for the well wishes!
    My surgeon told me that the reason they use the subclavian artery is to avoid the real possibility of a stroke as opposed to using the aorta. He says this is his preferred method when the patient's heart is arrested for the repair work.
    July 12, 2010 surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital - Dr. Plestis, http://aorticwellnesscenter.org/ - Bovine valve, aortic root, ascending aorta replacement and ramus intermedius stenosis bypassed with saphenous vein. July 23rd Pericardial effusion drained.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jkm7 View Post
    This is one variation on OHS that puzzles me.

    Most of us that have full sternotomy, don't have a separate incision for heart lung machine. They connect through the open chest.
    I wonder why all surgeons don't do it that way? I am sure there is some technical reason about which I have no clue.

    Hoping you feel better soon, LonMel.... that you heal well and the pain passes quickly.
    Best Wishes.
    I've never heard of it for first time full sternum before,
    but If you were asking about why they sometimes do for multiple REDOs that are full sternum, I know in Justin's case (and a couple others not member here) that since he had his heart /conduit fused to his sternum with internal scarring, in some cases it could be "safer" to start the bypass thru the second incision before they completely open the sternum, so there isn't as much blood in the heart. Its a little more technical than that, but that was my understanding of the basics.
    Lyn
    Mom to Justin 25 TGA,VSDs, pulmonary atresia/stenosis ect, post/Rastelli, 5 OHS, pacer in and out ... and surgery w/muscle flap for post op infection (sternal osteomyelitis with mediastinitis) www.caringbridge.org/nj/justinw

  11. #11
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    Interesting, Lyn. Thanks.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jkm7 View Post
    Interesting, Lyn. Thanks.
    See how much I got to learn by being Justin's Mom? BTW they knew going in to both his 4th and 5th OHS that his heart was fused to his sternum, from his caths, in case anyone is wonderring.
    Lyn
    Mom to Justin 25 TGA,VSDs, pulmonary atresia/stenosis ect, post/Rastelli, 5 OHS, pacer in and out ... and surgery w/muscle flap for post op infection (sternal osteomyelitis with mediastinitis) www.caringbridge.org/nj/justinw

  13. #13
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    For my second OHS, I had the bypass incision done on the groin/inner thigh on my left side. Hurt worse than the full sternotomy for sure. Improved after a few weeks, but I still have some numbness around the incision area. I am pretty sure I had some significant scarring internally after my first OHS.


    --Dan
    AVR for BAV 2002, with Cryolife human donor valve
    Pacemaker in 2004
    Second AVR with OHS June 23rd 2010, with ON-X valve

    "It's not how hard you can hit; it's how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward."

    Crash Cart

  14. #14
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    I hesitate to add anything since my surgery was so long ago and the procedures have changed a lot. However, after the surgery I developed a weakness (not numbness) in my right arm that continues to this day. I can not write in script for long periods of time without my hand cramping and cannot swing a hammer for long periods and you do not want to stand in front of me 'cause the hammer may release out of my grip without warning. It is also not possible to get a pulse out of that arm(pulse is too faint to read). I do have an incision in my right elbow (I think a cardiac cath) and have been told that probably a nerve was nicked. It has never gotten any worse...or any better, and you learn to live with it. On the bright side, maybe yours will only be temporary. That is just one of the things that goes with this type of surgery that can't be foreseen.
    Starr-Edwards mechanical AVR 1967 at age 31.....University of Kentucky Med. Ctr., Dr. Richard Wood & Dr. Gordon Danielson surgeons. No surgery (heart or otherwise) since. On Warfarin ACT since surgery. No diet, lifestyle, or activity restrictions....and I live one day at a time.

  15. #15
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    After my OH my right arm and right leg was numb. Nobody addressed it in the hospital. When I got home I had shoulder pain, that got better. Then I was waking up in the middle of the night because my right thigh felt like it was on fire.
    They put me on so many meds. Right now my thigh is still numb, but it hasn't hurt.
    Ken AVR Oct 12th 2007. ATS 25mm
    Morristown Memorial Hospital
    Doctor Chris Magovern

    It is what it is!

  16. #16
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    I complained about my numbness in the hospital. I was put on Neurontin (Gabapentin) for the neuropathic pain. My arm has improved as far as functionality, but it still hurts. The pain meds give me some relief but I don't like to keep taking them. I guess I will have to wait it out!
    July 12, 2010 surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital - Dr. Plestis, http://aorticwellnesscenter.org/ - Bovine valve, aortic root, ascending aorta replacement and ramus intermedius stenosis bypassed with saphenous vein. July 23rd Pericardial effusion drained.

  17. #17
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    Hi all - Just resuscitating this thread here - I'm experiencing similar ulnar nerve issues since the surgery and they carry on today at post-op week 15. I've gone through the EMG study fun and clinical strength testing with a hand surgeon recently. he (naturally) wants to operate. Procedure is called an "ulnar nerve transposition" and while it looks fairly routine, i'd rather not get more knifework done.

    Still trying to get my surgeon to answer on this but for now my question: has anyone had the ulnar nerve operated on in the wake of this surgery and did it help?

    Interestingly, I mentioned gabapentin during my consult to treat the nerve pain and he didn't feel like it would help.

    thanks
    1) Ross Procedure, Ed Verrier 1999 2) AVR/PVR, Frank Hanley 2006, Staph endocarditis post-op 3) PVR, Frank Hanley 2007, Staph endocarditis, post-op 4) AVR/PVR re-op On-X valves + Tricuspid repair, Gosta Pettersson 2010

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