After my heart surgery, when will the tubes be removed?

The breathing tube will stay in place until you are awake and alert enough to breathe on your own. This may take four to five hours after coming out of the operating room. You may not have anything to eat or drink while the breathing tube is in your throat. Your care team will provide moist swabs for your mouth to help with the dryness.
After the breathing tube is removed, you will be given a device called an incentive spirometer (IS) to help exercise your lungs and encourage you to take deep breaths. Your care team will ask you to work on your IS 10 times each hour while awake. Slow, deep breaths are important in preventing pneumonia and weaning from oxygen.

At this time, you may also start eating and drinking at your care team’s discretion. It is best to start with ice chips and then to move to clear liquids before eating solids. It is normal to have a decreased appetite, even nausea. This should go away in a few days.

Chest tubes (inserted to drain extra fluid around your heart during surgery) will typically be removed one to three days after your procedure. They are connected to a container, and you may feel some tugging under your skin. The chest tubes are often a source of pain, but this can be relieved with medication. It is important to tell your care team when you experience pain so that you can be properly medicated.

The urinary catheter is removed within a day or two after surgery. If you have pacemaker wires, these will be removed before you are discharged.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.