Preparing for Surgery

Nurse Sitting By Male Patient's Bed In Hospital

Preparing for Surgery

As you prepare for a major surgery, there are many moving parts you can expect. The team of experts taking care of you have a lot of prep to do before you are ready. Your surgical team includes a heart surgeon, resident doctors, an anesthesiologist, nurse practitioners and nursing staff.

Your nurse practitioner will help set expectations and serve as your contact person to coordinate care. A respiratory therapist will also be on staff to help explain the importance of coughing and deep breathing to clear your lungs of excess vapor that accumulates during surgery. The anesthesiologist is responsible for administering your anesthesia throughout the operation so you remain soundly asleep.

In addition to interacting with the team, you can also expect a variety of labs and tests to be run. You’ll need current X-rays, an electrocardiogram (EKG), a urine test, and a blood sample. You’ll also need to shower twice before surgery with a special soap and the hair will be removed from your chest to decrease chances of infection.

It’s a process, but these systems and tests help ensure that the team is ready to go and has all the information they need for a successful and worry-free surgery.

Heart Monitors

Heart monitors are used to measure and record your heart rate, rhythm, blood pressure, and heart pressure. This data helps the doctors assess the health and performance of your heart and spot any issues that may arise quickly.

Gastric Tube

During the surgery, a small tube is placed from your mouth or nose into your stomach. The purpose of this gastric tube is to remove the air and fluid from the stomach to prevent vomiting. After the surgery, the tube is taken out and patients are able to take ice chips and liquids by mouth as their diet slowly but surely returns to normal.

Chest Tube/Pacemaker Wires

During the surgery, patients are also hooked up to chest tubes and pacemaker wires. Chest tubes help allow blood and fluid that form inside the chest to drain out and are removed a day or two after surgery. Pacemaker wires are also put in as a backup to assist as needed if the heart rhythm has any complications. They are removed three or four days after surgery.

IV/Bladder Tube

Intravenous (IV) lines help you stay hydrated and receive needed medications after surgery. A tube is also placed to help your bladder drain urine which allows the medical professionals to monitor for fluid balance and kidney function. The bladder tube remains in one or two days after surgery.

Heart Hugger Sternum Support Harness

The Heart Hugger comes into play after surgery. Hopefully, your medical staff will have sized and fitted you for your Heart Hugger before the operation so it’s all ready to go. After the breathing tube is removed, the medical staff can help the patient into the Heart Hugger. This harness is simple, adjustable, and comfortable. It gives patients the ability to control pain by allowing them to immobilize their incision wound and the areas around it. Read more about Heart Hugger.

To discuss sternal support options,