What happens after heart surgery Talking with your child (1347)

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Talking with your child

Talking with your child about what to expect after surgery may make your child better able to handle the experience. This sheet will help you explain what your child may see, feel, hear, and do after heart surgery. Please use the teaching sheet Preparing You Child for Surgery to help you talk with your child about having surgery.

will you stay in the hospital?

You will be staying on the 3rd floor called the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit or CICU. This is a special place for kids who need their heart fixed or need to be watched closely.

Cool things about the CICU

What kinds of things will be used to take care of you?

Lots of tubes and wires are needed to take care of your heart after surgery. Even when you know what to expect, it can be scary to see all the "stuff" when you wake up. Below are some of things you might see and what their jobs are. Most of these will be seen and used right after surgery. Some may be used the whole time you are in the hospital but you shouldn’t need any of them when you go home.

– Stickers on your chest called leads, show how your heart is beating.

–– The sticker with a red light around your finger is called a pulse oximeter, or pulse ox. It tells how you are breathing.

– The cuff on your arm or leg is called a blood pressure cuff. It tells how fast or slow the blood is pumping through your body. The cuff gives your arm a big hug as it pumps up. Then slowly stops as the air goes out.

PIV is normally in your hand or arm. It gives your body medicine and water.

Central Line will most likely be in your neck. It is used to watch how your heart is doing its job and to give your body medicine and water.

Arterial Line is normally in your wrist. It watches how fast or slow the blood is pumping through your body. It sometimes is used to get blood from you without having to do a poke. There is tape on the IVs to help keep them in the right spot. If the tape bothers you, tell your nurse.

If you are still not comfortable talking to your child about heart surgery, please talk to the Certified Child Life Specialist for the West 3 Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU). You can have your medical team place a consult for Child Life when you are in the Herma Heart pre-op clinic.

This sheet was created to help you care for your child or family member. It does not take the place of medical care. Talk with your healthcare provider for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up.


Call your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has special health care needs that were not covered by this information.