About Your Heart Surgery

We are committed to providing useful information regarding your surgery upfront and answering your questions and concerns

We find that our patients facing cardiac operations want specific information regarding their surgery and that they are reassured when given detailed information to review and discuss with their families. We hope that you find this information helpful and that it answers some of your questions about your hospital stay. Please contact us for any additional questions or concerns you might have, as we are most happy to discuss them with you at any time.

Heart Surgery Pre-Operative Information

If you have been instructed by our cardiac surgery coordinator to check into the hospital for an early AM admission the morning of your surgery, please follow the steps below.

  • Shower
    On the night before your surgery, you will need to shower with Betadine(TM) (povidone iodine) cleansing solution. Complete your shower first with your regular bath soap. When this is all rinsed off, squeeze a tablespoonful of the Betadine solution into a washcloth, suds it up and scrub your chest for 3 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with water and repeat, washing for an additional 3 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.Cardiac Bypass Patients: If veins will be taken from your legs, scrub your inner calves as you did your chest.

    Do not take a shower the morning of your surgery.

  • Mouthwash
    Peridex(TM) (Chlorhexidine Gluconate) 0.12% Oral Rinse will be given to you at the time of your pre-operative History and Physical Examination at Pacific Coast Cardiac & Vascular Surgeons. Rinse your mouth with the Peridex(TM). Rinse at bedtime the evening before your surgery and the morning of your surgery. Fill the dosage cup to the 1/2 fl. ounce line. Swish in your mouth undiluted for 30 seconds, then spit out. Do not swallow.
  • What to Eat
    You should have nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery.

For our patients who are instructed to check into the hospital at noon the day prior to surgery, the hospital staff will guide you through the above steps.

Your Surgery

Upon entering the operating room (OR), surgery will last approximately three hours, though you may be in the OR up to five hours. Your family should be in the waiting room (also located on the second floor) at the end of the three-hour period to meet the surgeon who will inform them about your surgery. For their convenience, the waiting room is usually staffed with a volunteer attendant who can call them back should they want to leave the area for fresh air or something to eat.

You will be asleep as you enter the OR and will not likely remember much prior to surgery.

Once in the OR, the staff will apply monitoring devices to you so that your vital statistics can be monitored at all times. The surgical team is made up of eight important members, led by the cardiac surgeons, and each has a very specific job. You are in very capable hands. These monitoring devices will accompany you to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where you will go immediately following surgery.

Your Stay In the Hospital

Upon entering the ICU, you will still be asleep. Valve surgery patients will be kept asleep for five hours. Once allowed to wake up, it can be an additional two to four hours before you are fully awake. So, it may be a total of nine hours or so after entering the ICU that you are talking with your family. Bypass surgery patients usually start waking up between two to four hours after entering the ICU.

The morning after surgery you will be encouraged to get out of bed and sit in a nearby chair while you eat your breakfast. You may not have a strong appetite, but you are encouraged to eat and drink from your breakfast tray.

By the second day after surgery, you will get up and walk the halls with assistance from the hospital staff.

Activity and exercise are the single most important things you can do to hasten recovery. Small movements count! Take the opportunity to get out of the hospital bed and move to a chair for all of your meals. On the first day, walking from the bed to the door counts. Each day, walk a little more and a little further down the hall.

Your body will dictate the amount of time you spend in the hospital. The average length of stay is five days. Do not be alarmed if your stay is longer as you may need extra care from the nursing staff.