About the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

Wheelchair icon


Toronto General Hospital | map icon​ Maps & Directions
Peter Munk Building – 2nd Floor
​Clinic Directions​​​

Toronto Western Hospital | map iconMaps & Directions ​
Fell Pavilion – 2nd Floor


​​Toronto General switchboard: 416 340 4800

Toronto Western: 416 603 5757

What We Do

​​​The Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) is made up of a team of nurses who have extensive training in critical care. Under the direct supervision of an anesthesiologist, we care for all patients, following surgery and anesthesia.

Our team provides the following services to patients:

Monitoring vital signs
Sometimes, after surgery, patients will require medications to control changes in their vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, or respiratory rate. Patients will not be discharged from the PACU until their vital signs are stable.

Managing pain
Pain management begins in the PACU. This may take the form of pills, injections or a "Pain Pump" (intravenous or epidural)​.

A Pain Pump is a form of Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA), and gives patients a role in administering the medication.

​Administering blood products and fluids
Patients who have lost blood during their surgery may be given blood products in the PACU.​​​

Discharge From Our Unit

Before patients are discharged home or to an inpatient unit, they will stay in the PACU until:​

  • They have recovered from their anesthetic 
  • They can feel and move their legs, if an epidural or spinal anesthetic was given
  • Their vital signs are stable
  • They have reached a level of pain that is manageable

​​​The length of stay in the PACU is different for each patient. It's based on the type of surgery and type of anesthetic involved.

When patients have long or very involved operations, or if they have pre-existing medical problems, we may decide to watch them in the PACU for a longer period of time, after their operation. These patients benefit from the more intensive care and monitoring provided in the PACU. The decision to remain in the PACU is made by the anesthesiologist or surgeon.​

Visiting Our Unit

Visiting the PACU is restricted to 2 visitors at a time. Since the average stay in PACU is minimal, visitors are asked to wait in the surgical waiting room.​