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Patient Resources | Overview

Our cardiac anesthesiologists are trained to manage all aspects of heart surgery and the pathophysiology of congenital heart disease. They are involved in all three phases of surgery: before, during, and after.

If your child is having surgery, one of our anesthesiologists will discuss the sedation process with you prior to the operation. Your child is unique — so the anesthesiologist creates an anesthesia plan specifically for your child’s condition, procedure, and particular needs.

On the day of your pre-surgical testing, you’ll meet an entire team that includes registered nurses, cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, anesthesiologists, respiratory therapists, social workers, clinical dietitians, and others. This group works together to develop an individual care plan to meet your child’s medical and emotional needs. They also try, to the greatest extent possible, to meet your family’s needs for information, support, and assistance. An anesthesiologist will meet with you and your child (in an age-appropriate fashion) to describe step-by-step what will happen on the day of surgery. The doctor will discuss each step in as much detail as you desire, and will answer all your questions.

Before surgery, your child’s anesthesiologist will administer the proper anesthetics to ensure your child is asleep and feeling no pain during the procedure. During the procedure, the doctor will administer and coordinate ventilation, drugs, and other treatments that support heart, lung, kidney, brain, and other critical functions. After the surgery, we’ll monitor your child’s functions until they are stabilized in the cardiac intensive care unit.

Frequently used terms in cardiac anesthesia

Here are just a few of the terms you may hear our specialists use when discussing the care we provide to your child:

  • Central line: This flexible tube is placed in a vein to allow a clinician to give a patient fluids, blood products, nutrition, and medications. It also allows clinicians to monitor the pressure in a patient’s heart chambers. It can stay in place longer than a catheter in a peripheral vein.
  • Arterial line: This kind of catheter is placed inside an artery. It allows clinicians to instantaneously measure a patient’s blood pressure and also draw blood for measuring levels of electrolytes and other blood components.
  • Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) probe: This probe, which is lowered down the esophagus and placed behind the heart, takes pictures of the heart using sound waves. These pictures provide information about the heart’s function and anatomy.
  • Intubation: The process of placing an endotracheal tube inside a patient’s trachea (airway). An endotracheal tube is connected to a ventilator and allows air, oxygen, and anesthetic gases to reach a patient’s lungs. We decide which size of endotracheal tube to use based on a patient’s age and size.