Enhanced Recovery After Cardiac Surgery (ERAS Cardiac)

The Enhanced Recovery After Cardiac Surgery Program (ERAS Cardiac Surgery) at Boston Children’s Hospital is a new approach to improve your child’s recovery after heart surgery. It involves all phases of your child’s surgical care, from pre-op to post-surgical follow-up.

This approach uses evidence-based guidelines to quicken recovery, reduce complications, decrease time in the hospital, and improve patient and family satisfaction.

Enhanced recovery principles are applied to all types of congenital heart surgery, and ERAS Cardiac Surgery is a program for many types of elective heart surgery at Boston Children’s.

Your doctor or surgeon will discuss the program with you if it’s appropriate for your child.

What are the strategies of ERAS Cardiac Surgery?

The program includes these important strategies:

Less fasting

We recommend that patients drink clear fluids up to two hours before their surgery. We suggest clear apple juice, Pedialyte or a sports drink. This helps:

  • reduce the body’s stress response
  • lower the risk of dehydration and blood sugar swings

Multiple approaches to treat pain

Using a combination of medications can reduce pain and discomfort after surgery and reduce the overall use of opioids.

  • Medications may include local anesthetics, acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as well as opioids for severe pain.
  • Reducing opioids improves activity, lung function, and helps digestion return to normal after surgery.

Removing tubes, catheters and IVs

Once the surgery is complete and your child is doing well, we will remove the breathing tube. This may happen either in the operating room or in the intensive care unit. We will remove IVs, catheters and other tubes as soon as it’s safe and no longer needed. These measures help reduce your child’s pain and allow them to get out of bed easier.

Getting out of bed after surgery

Getting out of bed on the day of surgery has many benefits for your child:

  • improves lung function
  • prevents blood clots
  • allows chest tubes to clear fluid
  • improves digestion

Return to a normal diet

Getting back to eating and drinking after surgery helps the body heal and helps digestion return to normal.

What happens after surgery?

Our goal is to improve your child’s recovery. After you return home, we will follow up to ask how your child is healing and answer any questions. We would also like to know what we are doing well and any ways in which we can improve.

ERAS Cardiac Surgery Journey 

eras cardiac journeyDownload the ERAS cardiac patient journey.