ELI5- How do surgeons sew up after an operation without leaving air in the body?


ELI5- How do surgeons sew up after an operation without leaving air in the body?

In: 46

They often do leave air in the body. A friend of mine has a air bubble in her shoulder that migrated there after a C-section

They don’t. Often times a small tube called a drainage port is left in the surgical site to let air and fluids drain from the wound while people are still in the hospital; they are then removed and stitched closed completely before the person is sent home.


the surgeon will make sure that there are no air pockets in the body before sewing up the incision.

You’re getting some good answers but also some quite weird ones – let’s break it down.

Tldr – there’s gas in there, its not really a problem aside from sometimes causing pain, and goes away on its own pretty fast.

Air within the abdomen is going to happen with any abdo surgery, and we dont really do all that much to avoid it, aside from giving it a little time to get out after a keyhole surgery before removing the access ports (like a few seconds, it doesn’t take long). There will be gas left behind. Drains are normally used to remove fluid not gas (so they’re generally at the bottom of the abdo where fluid would pool).

Pneumoperitoneum (air in the abdominal cavity) is normal after surgery, and absorbs over a few days (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9266640/ reference for this). The main consequence is normally shoulder tip pain caused by gas irritation of the diaphragm (i had this after my c section, bloody hell it hurt, luckily doesn’t last long).

Cardiac surgeon here. Before closing the sternal wound we install 2-4 draining tubes and connect them to vacuum system. At least 2 are used for draining blood from pericardial cavity and another 2 for draining blood AND air, if pleural cavities were opened. They are removed in 1-2 days after surgery

I had a tumor removal surgery and was on laid on my stomach for a little over 6 hours. The amount of bloating I experienced was insane! My body finally absorbed the gas and left me with burps and toots, not fun when it’s consistant🤣

Lots of times some air IS left in the body.

Surgeons usually work through the smallest hole that will give access to the anatomy, so people aren’t USUALLY laid wide open as you might think, and body parts fit together nicely, so they go back into their original positions fairly easily. But, air does get into body cavities, sometimes on purpose, and even just big incisions like a hip replacement usually have trace amounts of air trapped while they close and suture.

I can often see air when I take post-op x-rays.