Before & After Surgery

Pre-Post Surgery Information

Prepare for heart surgery?

Stop Smoking – if you are still smoking before your heart surgery your risk of a chest infection after your operation is increased. if you stop smoking before your operation, your long-term recovery will also be improved. If you require help with stopping smoking please discuss with your GP practice nurse.

Lose Weight – If you have been advised by your surgeon to lose weight before the operation and need support, discuss this with your GP or practice nurse.

Pre-assessment

This is a day spent at King’s about four weeks before your operation. The morning will be led by the cardiothoracic nurse specialist; the procedure and recovery will be discussed. You will get to meet a patient who has recently had surgery and will answer any questions you may have. You will be able to give further information about your admission.

During the afternoon you will have a chest x-ray, blood tests, a heart tracing (ECG), swabs taken for MRSA and will meet with a surgical doctor, the cardiothoracic nurse specialist and pharmacist.

By having the necessary tests the doctors will be able to check your fitness for the operation and whether anything needs addressing before your admission.

Dental Care

If you are having heart valve surgery it is important that you have had a dental check up within the past six months. Dental care for valve patients will be discussed in more detail later.

What to Bring?

Please try to bring only one bag with you. You will need flip flops, night dresses, dressing gown, toiletries, towels and underwear. It is advised that women bring a bra with them, which they can wear after their operation. Wearing a bra after your surgery will help to support your chest wound.

You will need a set of day clothes to go home in and when you are up and walking around you may prefer to be dressed in your own clothes.

Note: Please do not bring in valuables, jewellery or large sums of money. If this is not possible hand in any valuables to the nurse in charge on your arrival. They will be listed and locked in a safe and you will be given a receipt. We do not accept liability for the loss of items that are not handed in for safe keeping.

Surgery Day

You will not beable to eat or drink from midnight of the night before your surgery. In the morning you will be given some of your usual medication to take with a small amount of water.

For both heart valve and CABG ( Coronary Artery Bypass Graft) surgery you will need to shave your chest. If you are having CABG surgery you will also need to shave your inner arms and legs. You will also be asked to shower in antiseptic lotion.

Once you are prepared for your operation you will be taken on a torlley to the operating theatre. A small plastic tube called a cannula will be inserted into your hand, so that you can receive a general anaesthetic. The rest of tubes are inserted while you are under anaesthetic.

After Surgery in the Hospital

The operation takes about 3 to 4 hours and you will be transferred to the Surgical Recovery unit or Intensive Care unit where a nurse will be dedicated to looking after you. It will take a few hours before you are able to wake up and breath without the ventilator and at that stage your breathing tube will be removed.

Your pain will be well controlled by infusion of drugs into your vein. Your fluid requirements will also be given through the cannula in a vein until you are able to drink. There will be drains (tubes) in your chest and the nurse will measure hourly blood loses to alert the team if excessive. A catheter will be in your bladder to allow measurement of urine production – this means you do not have to worry about your bladder!

If all is well, you will be transferred to the High Dependency unit later on that day or the next where similar level of monitoring will continue. All your tubes and venuous cannulae will be removed and you will be transferred to your room. Low dose of oxygen will be given to you for the first two nights. The physiotherapist will encourage you with the breathing exercises and start you walking. We expect you will continue walking increasing distances daily and by the 6th or 7th day you will be in a position to be discharged home.

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