When you’re preparing for heart surgery, it’s helpful to have information detailing what to expect when you check-in for surgery, what happens during surgery and what your hospital stay might be like. The cardiothoracic experts at Palo Alto Medical Foundation have compiled some helpful information for you to review before surgery to help answer some of your questions. Please contact us with any additional questions or concerns, as we are happy to discuss them with you.
Heart Surgery Pre-Operative Information
If you have been instructed by our cardiac surgery coordinator to check into the hospital for an early morning surgery admission, please follow the steps below. 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 steps.
- Shower — On the night before your surgery, you will need to shower with a povidone iodine cleansing solution. Complete your shower first with your regular bath soap. When this is all rinsed off, squeeze a tablespoonful of the iodine solution onto a washcloth, suds it up and scrub your chest for three minutes. Rinse thoroughly with water and repeat, washing for an additional three minutes before rinsing thoroughly. If you’re a cardiac bypass patient and 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 — A chlorhexidine gluconate oral rinse, often called Peridex, will be given to you at the time of your pre-operative physical examination. Rinse your mouth with the solution. Rinse at bedtime the evening before your surgery and the morning of your surgery. Fill the dosage cup to the one-half fluid ounce line. Swish in your mouth for 30 seconds, then spit out.
- Food — You should have nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery.
Checking Into the Hospital for Surgery
Early Morning Admission on the Day of Surgery
If you have been instructed by our cardiac surgery coordinator to check into the hospital for an early morning admission on the day of your surgery, please follow these steps:
- You will complete your pre-operative testing prior to your surgery, oftentimes the day before admission in conjunction with your pre-operative physician consult.
- If you have a reservation at the Sequoia Hospital Guest House, the pre-admission nurse will give you a key to your room during your pre-operative testing.
- On the morning of admission and surgery, enter the hospital through the main lobby and take the main elevators to the Short Stay Unit on the second floor. If you arrive prior to 7 a.m., there may not be many people around. Please follow the signs carefully to the SSU where you will prepare for surgery. You will take a shower with antibacterial soap, the nurse will shave or clip the affected area of your body and give you a hospital gown to wear. You’ll be introduced to your anesthesiologist, who can answer any questions you may have. Your family may stay with you during this period.
Noon Admission Day Prior to Surgery
If you have been instructed by our cardiac surgery coordinator to check into the hospital for a noon admission, please follow these steps:
- The Admitting Department is located next to the Guest Services Desk in the hospital main lobby. Please check in with them upon arrival. Please bring a detailed list of your medications with you, as well as your completed four-page patient history form.
- If you have a reservation at the Sequoia Hospital Guest House, please pick up your room key at the Guest Services desk located in the hospital main lobby.
- You will complete your pre-operative testing after being admitted to the hospital.
Upon entering the operating room, your surgery will last approximately three hours, though you may be in the operating room up to five hours. Your family should be in the waiting room, 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 operating room and will not likely remember much prior to surgery.
Once in the operating room, 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 where you will go immediately following surgery.
Your Stay In the Hospital
Upon entering the ICU, you will still be asleep. Valve surgery patients are 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. Soon you’ll be able to return home and enjoy longer walks.
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.
Doctors at Palo Alto Medical Foundation
Obstetrics and Gynecology