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Common Questions about Cardiovascular Anesthesia

Here are some of the most common questions about Cardiovascular Anesthesia.

What is a cardiac bypass machine?
The cardiac bypass machine takes over the function of a patient’s heart and lungs during heart surgery. It oxygenates the blood and pumps it to the rest of the body while delicate surgical procedures are performed on the heart and major vessels. At the conclusion of a cardiac surgical procedure, the heart and lungs resume their normal functions and the patient is weaned of the bypass machine.
What monitors are used during cardiac surgery?
Many of the monitors used in cardiac surgery are used in every surgical case where anesthesia is provided. In addition to monitoring the cardiac bypass machine, your blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen level and temperature are constantly monitored throughout the procedure. In addition to the use of a blood pressure cuff, an arterial line is used for beat-to-beat monitoring of blood pressure. This is done with an intravenous catheter placed into an artery, typically in the wrist. Intravenous access is further supplemented with a central line, which is an intravenous catheter inserted into one of the large veins of the body, most commonly the veins in the neck. A transesophageal echo (TEE) probe is also used to take pictures of the heart and valves during surgery.
What happens after surgery in the ICU?
Surgery on the heart and major vessels is a critical undertaking that requires administration of significant fluid volume, medications for hemodynamic support, blood products, and multiple doses of narcotics for pain control. Your anesthesia team will discuss all aspects of the case with the doctors and nurses in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Working with the anesthesia team, your ICU team will closely monitor your vital signs and administer any additional medications and fluids, and will provide a smooth transition from anesthesia and assisted breathing to an awake and alert state.

For more information, please visit our Anesthesia Services section.

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