Chest pain is a commonly encountered symptom in patients recovering from recent surgery. One should be familiar with the ACLS protocol as well as the various medications used to control cardiac arrhythmias in the event symptoms progress to cardiac arrest. The initial evaluation should include assessing the patient’s vital signs and mental status. If the blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rate are stable and the patient is awake and alert, a deliberate and organized approach is possible. One should obtain an accurate description of the chest pain. Is the pain sharp, dull, pressure-like, pleuritic, radiating, or reproducible? Often, a patient will have musculoskeletal pain related to positioning during surgery, or incisional chest pain, for example, following a modified radical mastectomy or thoracotomy. These entities can be distinguished from cardiac pain by specific questions during the history.
KeywordsPulmonary Embolism Chest Pain Pulmonary Edema Aortic Dissection Radical Mastectomy
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