Heart and Vascular Center

The Day of Surgery

Whether you are coming from home or are already in the hospital, you will be taken to the Cardiovascular Surgical Prep Unit (CVSPU) about two hours prior to your scheduled surgery.

At this time you will:

  • Have an IV started in your hand or arm
  • Will be shaved from the neck down
  • Will meet the anesthesiologist
  • Have additional questions answered and sign the consents for the surgery

Close family members can wait in CVSPU with you, but please limit the number of individuals that accompany you since there is limited space within the area.

When the surgical team is ready to begin your surgery, you will be given some medicine to help you relax. You will then be taken to the operating room. Further preparation will be done in the operating room and you will be given some additional medicine that will allow you to sleep through the procedure.

What family and friends should do while you are in surgery

When your loved one is taken into the operating room you should go to the main lobby in the hospital, directly next to the gift shop. If you do not know how to get to the main lobby, please ask the nurses in the area.

The Cardiac Liaison Nurse or Cardiac RN will provide updates to you Monday through Friday. On weekends, other arrangements will be made to keep the family informed during the surgery. After the second update, the Surgical Reception desk will let you know when to move to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) waiting area. This should be about one to two hours after the second update. When the procedure is completely over, the surgeon will come out and talk to you about the procedure and how your loved one is doing. When you go to the SICU waiting area, you will be allowed into the room by the nurse when the patient is stable and all the postoperative tests have been completed. This usually happens about 30-45 minutes after you arrive in SICU waiting room.

Inside the SICU

The critical care environment can be a very stressful and unpleasant place to be for both the patient and family members. Here is some information regarding the ICU experience that will hopefully make your stay a little less stressful and a little more enjoyable.

What to expect when you first see your loved one

When you first walk into the room you will notice five monitoring devices:

  • Breathing Tube - When you first see your loved one after surgery they will be asleep with their eyes closed and will not respond to any loving words you say to them. This is normal. We have them sleep to help their heart and body rest after the surgery. The breathing tube is often one of the scariest things for the patient and family. It helps the patient breathe while they are asleep and when they wake up the tube will be removed as soon as the patient can breathe on their own. The patient may become anxious and feel like they can’t breathe. They are breathing fine and it is just the awkward nature of the tube. Usually the tube is out within two hours of waking up. This depends on the patient’s breathing status and may be in longer with other patients.
  • Swan Ganz Catheter – This is a large IV placed in the patient’s neck. It monitors the heart function and also allows nurses to give needed medications.
  • Arterial Line - This line is placed in the patient’s wrist. It continuously monitors blood pressure.
  • Chest Tubes - These tubes help drain leftover blood in the chest area.
  • Foley Catheter - The tube drains urine from the patient’s bladder into a bag at the end of the bed.

Other items you might notice include:

  • Additional IV sites in the patient’s arm to administer medications when needed.
  • One or both legs wrapped in an ace bandage to allow the graft site to heal
  • White dressing over sternal incision in chest area
  • Patient’s skin color will be orange/yellow due to antiseptic applied during surgery. The antiseptic helps prevent infections.

Expectations of Family and Visitors in SICU

Taking care of your loved one is our number one priority.

Therefore, we ask visitors to adhere to the following regulations:

  • There are no visitors allowed between 7-8 a.m. and 7-8 p.m. This is to keep information regarding the patient confidential while the nurses are giving reports during change of shift.
  • Only two people are allowed in the room at a time.
  • We encourage you to visit your loved one for short periods of time. They will get tired very easily and their rest is very important.
  • Please limit visitors to immediate family only while in SICU.