The surgical operation

Preparing your operation

First, you will have a complete check-up (blood tests, X-ray, stress test, electrocardiogram, cardiac catheterization) in the medical departments or in the surgery ward. After that, your operation needs preparing.

You will be having the following visits:

The day of the operation

After your final antiseptic shower, you put on the robe that the nurse will give you. If you wear dentures, take them out and put them in a safe place. You need to take off any jewelry, including wedding ring (which you should entrust to a family member) and pack your belongings in your bag or case. Lock your cupboard and give the key to the nurse before leaving your room. We will look after your belongings for you.

You will be given some pills just before you go down to theater, to help you relax and prepare for the anesthetic.

Heart operations tend to be long, especially because of all the preparation and installation needed before surgery as such can begin. The average operation takes between 2 and 4 hours.

After surgery

When the operation is over, you will not be going straight back to the surgical ward: you will stay in the intensive care unit (B16) for somewhere between 24 and 48 hours approximately. Once there, you will gradually come round from the anesthetic. Your family members (except in particular circumstances) are not allowed into the actual ICU cells, but they can see you through a window and talk with you over the intercom.

Visiting hours are in the afternoon and evening, from 2.30 to 6.30 pm and from 7.30 to 9.00 pm, for close friends and family, and visits should be kept short.
Family members can get news of a relative who is in Intensive Care, round the clock, by phoning the coordinating nurse of the B16 ICU, at (+33)(0)4 72 11 89 40. She will let you know the bed number and phone number to reach the cell nurse directly.

Intensive Care Unit equipment

You need to understand that, while you are in intensive care, you are going to have to bear with quite a lot of equipment that is essential for monitoring your cardiovascular system. This is for your own safety, and to ensure a quick recovery.

Monitoring equipment keeps constant track of:

Lights and buzzers let the nurse know if you are going above any of the thresholds which your anesthetist set when you arrived in B16.

There are respirators or assisted breathing machines.

Electrical syringes with a pre-set flow-rate control the perfusion of injected medication.

You will be installed lying on your back, with your hands secured to make sure you do not accidentally disconnect the monitoring and perfusion apparatus. The 'respirator' assists your breathing during the first day after the operation, with a tube to your mouth (or, less often, to your nose). Of course, this makes it impossible for you to speak; but don't worry about it just relax and you'll easily get used to it - especially as it will be fitted while you are asleep. It is connected up to a machine that makes a low noise and takes over the work of respiration while your heart adapts and until you are completely awake. The heart monitor is connected up to you via adhesive electrodes. If the alarm sounds, this alerts the team on duty; you may also hear your neighbor's alarm... Bear in mind that the alarm can be set off by your own movements if these are large, such as when you cough. The urinary probe fitted while you were under anesthetic in theater keeps close track of how much urine your kidneys are producing hour by hour. As well as this machine monitoring, hourly care and supervision are provided by the ICU team day and night.

The days following the operation

During the day after your operation, or perhaps the day after that, you will come back to the ward for about one week, unless you need longer intensive care surveillance. On the wards, you will be MONITORED for one or two days. Dressings will be checked, and removed the day after you come back to the ward; sutures and staples will be removed on the 8th day after the operation. Also, one of our physiotherapists will regularly help you breathe comfortably and then recover your independence.

You can then be discharged from the surgery department, to be referred either directly to a rehabilitation center or temporarily to the medical department where you had been before surgery and which will look after the rest of your medical monitoring.

Your stay in the rehabilitation center is organized while you are still in hospital.

The care teams of Departments A and B wish you a pleasant stay in our hospital.

The care team.