What is a PCA?

A PCA is a machine which delivers a set amount of strong pain-relieving (opioid) medication into your intravenous drip, when you push a button. Thus, you can control your pain management instead of needing to ring for a nurse.

The drug and dose delivered when you push the button is prescribed by me. It is delivered immediately and it works very quickly.


How often should I press the button?

Press the button whenever you have pain. If your pain is poorly controlled, you will not want to move about and this increases the chance of problems resulting from your operation. You should push your button until you feel comfortable enough to cough and move around as much as you are allowed to.

Before undertaking an activity such as getting out of bed, or having physiotherapy, I suggest you prepare by using the button in advance.


Who can push the button?

As you are the only person who can feels the pain, only you can push the button. It is dangerous for your family or other visitors to push the button for you.


Can I overdose?

No. I ensure safety by programming a lockout time between each successful delivery of pain relief. This ensures that the medication has time to work before a further dose is given.


What are the side effects?

The medication can cause:

  • Drowsiness. If you feel too drowsy, do not press the button.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Itch
  • Difficulty passing urine

These side effects can usually be treated if your nurse is informed promptly.


How long will I have the PCA?

Usually between 1-3 days, at the discretion of myself and your surgeon.

After removing the PCA, your pain management is converted to oral medication.