Before Aortic Surgery FAQ

What happens during a consultation?

Please bring copies of your most recent echocardiogram, CT scan, and/or cardiac catheterization to your first appointment, as well as a list of previous operations, hospital admissions, and current medications.

During this consultation, you will meet with our surgeons to discuss your specific case. The visit could take anywhere from 30 minutes, if we have all the tests we need, to four hours, if we require additional testing. Typically, most people will not need immediate surgery. The usual follow-up includes repeat CT scans at six months and one year from your initial visit to determine whether or not surgery is necessary.

What happens if I need surgery?

If surgery is necessary, you will meet with various members of our team to address all the aspects of surgery, from the procedure itself to insurance coverage. Our patient care coordinator will explain what you need to know before surgery, such as medications that should be discontinued, and any other lifestyle modifications we recommend before surgery.

Do I need any additional tests before surgery?

For everyone undergoing surgery, we typically perform routine blood work, an electrocardiogram, and a chest x-ray. We will also perform a pre-operative cardiac catheterization (angiogram) for those over the age of 45. Typically this happens the afternoon prior to operation.

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

In the event that you become sick before surgery, please notify the surgeon to determine 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 and these procedures are at an increased risk of infection if you undergo the surgery when you are ill.

What should I bring to the hospital?

Bring only essential items to the hospital. We also recommend that you bring a bag containing additional clothing, toiletries, glasses, hearing aids, cell phone, and charger to be left with a family member. Though only select items such as hearing aids and glasses will be allowed in the ICU, your belongings can be readily retrieved in the step-down unit.

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

Yes. Before the surgery, you and your family members can stay in the pre-operative holding area. Your family members can stay with you until you are brought into the operating room by our anesthesia team.

What if I need to cancel my surgery?

Because surgery is scheduled in advance, it is essential that you call your surgeon's office assistant as soon as possible. This will allow us to reschedule your surgery in a timely manner.

Do I need dental care before or after surgery?

Sometimes dental work is required prior to heart surgery, especially if there is tooth decay, loose teeth, or abscesses. This is because bacteria in the mouth may infect the graft material placed in the heart, and cardiologists typically recommend pre-procedural antibiotics. Dental work after heart surgery is usually fine.

How long will my surgical incision be?

We try to perform the surgery through small incisions. Safety is our primary concern, followed by cosmetically appealing results. 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.