Day of Surgery

Heart Surgery Guide: Day of Surgery

What to Bring, Where to Go

  • Something from Home: We encourage patients to bring one personal item with them into the operating room for comfort. If your child has a favorite toy, blanket, game, pacifier, stuffed animal or other familiar object, you may bring it along. Special requests may be honored for items such as prayer cloths, which remain close to you/the child throughout the surgery. Older children and teens are encouraged to bring CD players with headphones; DVD’s to watch after surgery; games or toys to play with after surgery.
  • Medications: Please bring a list of medicines you/your child is taking as well as the dosages.
  • Personal Items: You may want to bring a toothbrush, comb or other personal items for yourself. Please label any personal items you bring.
  • Insurance Card: Please remember to bring your insurance card to assist during the registration process.


Check-in will be at the Surgery Unit. The staff will obtain a set of vital signs and do an exam once you are given a room in the Surgery Unit. Anti-anxiety medicine may be given to help aid child’s separation from you.

Surgery Unit

Two people may remain in the surgery unit room with the patient during this time. You/Your child may be given a hat to wear in surgery as well as a scented anesthesia mask to be put to sleep before being taken to the operating room where the procedure will be done. Family should wait in the surgical family hospitality room (surgery waiting area). Family will be given updates about every 1.5 hours as to the progress of the surgery.

Please note: Only the legal guardian(s), spouse, or who the patient designates will be given the updates.

About Anesthesia

Anesthesia is the medicine that is given to go into a deep sleep for the operation. There will be no pain or memory of the operation.

Who Gives the Anesthesia?

Members of the Anesthesia Department give all general anesthetics. The anesthesia staff consists of physicians specializing in anesthesia for congenital heart disease and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (C.R.N.A.), under the direct supervision of the anesthesiologists.

Will I be Able to Talk With an Anesthesiologist?

Yes. An anesthesiologist reviews the pre-operative assessment with you/the parents prior to surgery, discussing the anesthesia and answering questions.

Will I Get a "Shot" Before Surgery?

Probably not. If sedation is needed, it will be given before surgery in the form of a liquid to swallow, rather than by injection.

How is the Anesthesia Given?

The induction (start of anesthesia) for younger children is accomplished by inhaling non-irritating medicated air delivered through a mask placed near the nose and mouth. A “scent”may be chosen for this mask and will induce sleep after three or four minutes.

Adults, older children and some children with medical problems might require the induction of anesthesia with intravenous medication. A patient’s preference is accommodated when appropriate, but the anesthesiologist, keeping you/the child’s safety in mind, will make the final decision.

During the induction, an anesthesiologist is always present in the operating room, along with at least one other staff member. Together, they work to provide the best possible operating conditions for the surgeon, while maintaining a safe level of anesthesia.

Once asleep, a plastic breathing tube will be inserted into the windpipe to aid in breathing. Intravenous fluids and other medication may be given as required.

Keeping the Family Comfortable

We understand how difficult a surgical procedure can be for the whole family and waiting can be the hardest part. During the hospital stay, there are many conveniences available to keep your family as relaxed and comfortable as possible.

Surgical Family Hospitality Room

Please check in and out with the receptionist. The Cardiothoracic Surgery Nurse Clinician or Nurse Practitioner will update the family approximately every hour and a half on surgery status. The updates may be given via phone, text message, mobile app, or in person.

For your convenience, there are vending machines, microwave ovens and an eating space in the waiting area. Also available is a computer with Internet access, telephones, TVs, restrooms, consultation rooms and a breast pump room.

You may have as many family members present as you wish. However, we ask that noise levels be kept to a minimum. In the event of overcrowding in the waiting area, some large groups may be asked to wait in an adjacent lobby area. These members can be given a pager to remain in contact. Please remember that updates will only be given to the parent/spouse or legal guardian due to HIPAA regulations. When the surgery is complete, the surgeon will discuss the surgery with your family in the waiting area.

Nationwide Children’s Clubhouse

The Nationwide Children’s Clubhouse is a special place for preschool and school age children (ages 3 to 11) to visit, play and learn while their sibling is in the hospital. It is a free service provided to our patients’ families. Our staff of professional Child Life Specialists and highly trained volunteers will keep your children engaged in activities that also help them cope with their emotions. The Clubhouse is located on the first floor of the new main hospital.

Children are welcome to stay for up to an hour and a half at a time.

Clubhouse Hours: 8:00 a.m.–Noon and 1:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. on weekdays, excluding holidays.

In the Operating Room

Once under anesthesia, different lines and tubes will be attached. This includes a breathing tube (endotracheal tube), a blood pressure line (arterial line), urinary catheter (tube to drain urine), and a heart monitor (EKG). Sometimes other lines, such as a central venous line (an IV) will be placed in larger blood vessels – or a scope is placed in the esophagus to allow for an echocardiogram at the beginning and end of the surgery.

After all the lines and tubes are placed, preparation for surgery begins meaning, placement in the appropriate position for respective surgery. The area where the incision will be made will be cleaned with Betadine, a brownish-orange colored solution that cleans the skin. The surgeon can now begin the surgery, which usually starts about an hour to an hour and a half after you/your child is taken back to the operating room.

Care is under the anesthesiologist, surgeon, thoracic surgery nurses and perfusionists throughout the surgery. When the surgery is complete, patient will be transferred to the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit. (HB4)