cardiologist with patient and family

Recovery in the Intensive Care Unit


Pulmonary Care

A breathing tube will be in your throat when you return to ICU after surgery and will be removed when you are fully awake and breathing well on your own. It is normal to be on a breathing machine called a ventilator following the surgery. While the breathing tube is in, you will not be able to talk or take any food or liquids. Your throat may stay sore for a few days after the breathing tube is removed. After the tube is removed, you will be encouraged to cough and take deep breaths. You will also be instructed to use a breathing device called the incentive spirometer every 1-2 hours while awake. The incentive spirometer will help with deep breathing.

Incisional Pain

You will be given medication for discomfort through your I.V. during the immediate period following your surgery. Your medications will be given by mouth as soon as you are taking food and liquids. You will be given a "Heart Pillow" after the surgery and will be instructed to use the pillow to hold tightly to your chest when coughing and deep breathing.

post cardiac surgeryEquipment After Surgery

Several different pieces of equipment will be used to monitor your body closely after surgery. These are removed as soon as they are no longer needed.

Chest Tubes

During surgery, these are placed in your chest at the bottom of the incision to drain the blood and fluid that collects in the chest. These are removed as soon as the fluids stop draining.

Urinary Catheter

This tube is placed in the bladder to collect urine and allows the accurate measurement of urine to show how the kidneys are working.

I.V. Lines

These are inserted before you are asleep to allow you to receive medications and fluids.

Arterial Lines

These are inserted in the wrist to allow for blood pressure readings and drawing blood samples. This keeps you from getting stuck every time blood is needed for a lab test.

Pacemaker Wires 

These are tiny wires placed in your abdomen that allow the doctor to attach a temporary pacemaker to adjust your heart rate if needed.

When are physically ready, you will be transferred to a room with a telemetry monitor.