Aortic Surgery FAQs

Do I need any tests before surgery?

Results of any tests that were performed by your doctor should be brought with you to your first appointment. After careful review of those tests, your surgeon may decide that more information is necessary. This occurs with particular frequency in patients who are candidates for stent graft repair.

In patients who are older than 45 years, a pre-operative cardiac catheterization (angiogram) will be performed. Typically this is done the afternoon prior to operation, with admission to the hospital immediately following.

All patients requiring surgery will undergo routine blood work, an electrocardiogram, and a chest X-Ray. Much of the blood work for your doctor's office can be used, but it will be necessary to obtain a blood sample for our blood bank to prepare for the possible need of transfusion.

If I get sick before surgery, what should I do?

It is possible that you may develop illness unrelated to your cardiac illness. In the event that you become sick before surgery, you must call your surgeon to see if antibiotics or other medicines are needed. It is also possible that the surgery may need to be postponed, as typically we will be inserting graft material and/or a new valve. We would not want this to become infected by other illness.

What should I bring to the hospital?

Bring only essential items to the hospital. The hospital will provide a blue robe. Patients should pack a bag containing additional clothing (underwear, pajamas, socks, etc), toiletries, glasses, hearing aids, cell phone and charger, and other items. This bag should be left with a family member, because the bag will not be permitted in the sterile environment of the ICU. Family members will be able to give select items, such as glasses and hearing aids, to nurses while you are in the ICU, and you will be able to receive the rest of your belongings once you are in the step-down unit. Take off all jewelry prior to admission, as its safest to leave valuables with a loved one.

Can my family members stay with me until I go to the operating room?

Yes, you will remain in the pre-operative holding area until you are brought into the operating room by our anesthesia team. Your family members can remain with you there. Ample time will be provided for privacy and conversation.

What if I need to cancel my surgery?

Surgery is scheduled in advance and typically there are many patients waiting for their procedure to be scheduled. Because operating room time is a valuable commodity, it is essential that you call your surgeon's office assistant, as soon as possible. This will allow a timely rescheduling and also permit other patients to be moved into your operating room slot.

Do I need dental care before or after surgery?

Sometimes dental work will be required prior to heart surgery, especially if patients have any tooth decay, loose teeth, or abscesses. The reason is that bacteria may cause infection of the graft material placed in the heart.

Dental work after heart surgery is fine, but your cardiologist will often recommend pre-procedural antibiotics to protect the new graft or new valve.

How long will my surgical incision be?

We always try to perform the surgery through small incisions. Safety is the first priority, followed by a cosmetically appealing result. Generally, most aortic procedures can be performed through a 3 to 6 inch incision. Several more minimally invasive procedures are offered, depending upon the procedure. Stent graft procedures are usually performed without any incision at all.