What can I expect when I enter the operating room for cardiac surgery?

Here are some general things to expect once you enter the operating room for cardiac surgery:
  • The operating room will be cold and have many bright lights, machines and instruments.
  • The operating room team consists of two nurses, two anesthesiologists, a physician assistant (PA), staff running various machines, the surgical resident and your surgeon.
  • Intravenous lines (IVs) are inserted for medications, fluid replacement, and blood pressure monitoring. After the first IV is inserted, the anesthesiologist may administer some medication to make you to feel relaxed and drowsy. The anesthesiologist will ask you to breathe into a lightweight mask and give you medication through your IV so that you sleep during surgery.
  • A Foley catheter drains the urine from the bladder, via the urethra, and is usually discontinued the second day after surgery.
  • A Swan Ganz catheter is inserted through a vein in your neck into your heart, and is used to measure volume status and pressure in your heart's chambers.
  • A member of the operating room team will shave surgical sites to remove any hair.
  • An endotrachael tube (ETT) is inserted into the windpipe through your mouth while you are asleep. This tube is attached to the ventilator that breathes for you during and after surgery.

Continue Learning about Heart Surgeries

Heart Surgeries

Heart Surgeries

More than a half million surgeries are done each year to correct heart problems in children and adults. One of the most common types of heart surgery performed is coronary artery bypass grafting, which uses a blood vessel taken fr...

om another part of the body to bypass a blocked artery and help prevent a heart attack. Another is heart valve replacement, used to repair heart valves that don't open and close properly. Heart surgery can be minimally invasive, such as when a small incision is made to the chest to insert a pacemaker. At the other extreme is open-heart surgery, which requires a large incision to the chest to open the rib cage and operate on the heart. Learn more about the different kinds of heart surgeries with expert advice from Sharecare.
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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.