Once your child is taken into the operating room and anesthetized, it will be approximately an hour or more before the actual procedure begins. There are many monitors that need to be hooked up and tubes placed prior to surgery to safeguard your child's health during the procedure:
- The heart monitor shows your child's heart rate and rhythm.
- A breathing tube (intubation tube) is placed directly into the trachea via the child's mouth and is attached to a breathing machine, either a ventilator or respirator.
- Intravenous (IV) tubes allow medications and fluids to be administered through the veins.
- A special tube called an arterial line is placed in the artery to monitor blood pressure.
- A small device is attached to your child's finger to measure blood-oxygen levels.
- An NG tube is placed in the nose and down the stomach to empty it, preventing your child from vomiting.
- A Foley catheter is put into the bladder through the urinary opening to measure urine and to make sure the kidneys are doing their job of taking extra fluid out of the body.
If your child is undergoing an open-heart surgery, the heart-lung machine will play many important roles during the procedure. Most importantly, it does the work of the heart, allowing the surgeon to work while the heart rests.
The steps of open heart surgery include the following:
- Exposure of the heart structures
- Placing on cardiopulmonary bypass
- Protecting the heart with special preservation solution, which then allows the heart to rest and allows the surgeon to work on a still heart
- An incision is then made in the heart or great vessel (depending on the type of repair)
- Sometimes cooling of the body temperature is needed to protect the other organs during surgery
- Once the repair is completed, the body is re-warmed and the heart is allowed to resume normal function
- Bypass support is slowly weaned
- An echo is done in the operating room to assess the repair
- The surgeon checks for bleeding
- The chest is closed
- The child is taken to the PICU for recovery
Family Waiting Area
When your child is taken into the operating room, you'll have three to five hours of waiting time. We know how stressful the waiting can be. Rest assured, we'll do everything we can to keep you as comfortable and informed as possible throughout the surgery.
At Mary Bridge, a family member needs to be available during and after the child's surgery. Families are invited to wait in the spacious multipurpose waiting area. There you'll find alcoves with computer hook-ups, bistro seating, children's play spaces — even kitchen facilities. You're also welcome to use the Family Resource Room on the sixth floor medical/surgical unit. It's equipped with books, diagnosis sheets, computer/Internet hookups and other resources to connect you with a variety of helpful services.
As the surgery progresses, the operating-room staff will keep you updated with how the procedure is going and how your child is doing. There's also an innovative real-time Patient Tracking System for families. Simply look for your child's private patient code on the computer screen in the family waiting area to see when he/she moves from pre-surgery to surgery to recovery. Once the surgery is complete, your child's surgeon and cardiologist will review the procedure with you more fully.