What to Expect After Adult Congenital Cardiac Surgery

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(608) 263-6311

(608) 263-6420

UW Health is proud to offer a comprehensive Adult Congenital Cardiac Surgery Program that provides a wide range of surgical treatments for adults with congenital heart disorders, helping them live full, healthy lives.


What happens after cardiac surgery?


After surgery, you will be moved to the intensive care unit (ICU). There, we will monitor your heart function and other vital signs.


Here is some of the equipment you may see in the ICU:

  • Ventilator:This is a machine that helps you breathe. It is connected to a small tube inserted into your trachea (the airway from the mouth to the lungs).
  • Intravenous (IV) Catheters:These are small, plastic tubes placed though the skin into your blood vessels. They provide fluids and medications.
  • Arterial Line:This is a special IV that measures your blood pressure.
  • Nasogastric Tube:This is a small, plastic tube placed through your nose down to your stomach. It helps keep the stomach free of acid and gas bubbles.
  • Urinary Catheter:This is a small, plastic tube that drains urine from the bladder. It also measures how much urine you are producing, which can help determine how well your heart is functioning.
  • Chest Tube:This is a small tube that helps drain blood from the chest after surgery.
  • Heart Monitor: This is a machine that displays your heart rhythm, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Most patients remain in the ICU for at least one night after surgery. Once you are stable enough to the leave the ICU, you will be moved to a regular hospital room.


You will remain in the hospital for at least several days after surgery. The exact length of time you need to stay depends on the type of surgery and how well you are recovering.


Before you are discharged, our staff will explain any medications you need to take after surgery. These may include antibiotics to prevent infection while your heart heals, prior to dental work or any other procedure. We will also instruct you on any activity limitations or required follow-up care.


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