How To Prepare

The Night Before Surgery

  • Do not eat or drink after midnight, except for taking pills given to you by your nurse. If your open heart procedure is scheduled early morning, you will receive instructions on the specific time you should report to the hospital. 
  • Nail polish, hair pins, hair pieces, contact lenses or prosthesis should be removed. 
  • Leave items of value at home, including rings, watches, dentures, glasses, hearing aids and money. 

At the Hospital

Once you are admitted to the hospital and in your room, members of the cardiothoracic surgery team will visit with you:

  • A nurse practitioner serves as a contact person and coordinates your care. Your nurse will assess you, have you sign a consent form and answer your questions.
  • An open heart surgery nurse or respiratory therapist will explain the need for coughing and deep breathing, and will show you how to use a lung exerciser called the incentive spirometer. You need to use this after surgery to keep your lungs clear.
  • The anesthesiologist explain the type of anesthesia you will be given. Anesthesia will be given before and throughout the operation, so you are asleep the entire time.

A chest X-ray, electrocardiogram (EKG) and a urine test will be performed if they were not done prior to admission. A blood sample is drawn to identify your blood type and reserve blood in case you need it. We try not to transfuse blood products; however, they are ready if you need them.

Twice before surgery, you will shower and scrub the front of your body with a special soap provided by the hospital. The soap puts a film on your skin so do not use other soap after the scrub. Your body hair will be removed the morning of your surgery to make it easier to clean your skin and to lesson the chance of infection.

Right before surgery, you will receive a medication to make you sleepy. You will have to stay in bed until you are taken to surgery. If your surgery is not the first case in the morning, ask your surgeon or nurse when you can expect your surgery to begin.

Your family is allowed to visit before you are taken to the operating room. Once you leave for surgery, your family can wait in the lounge and a member of the team will keep them updated.