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Preparing for your procedure

Our cardiac anesthesiologists are trained to manage all aspects of heart surgery, cardiac catheterization, and other procedures in children with congenital heart disease. They are involved in the care of your child before, during, and after their surgery or procedure.

If your child is having surgery or an imaging procedure, one of our anesthesiologists will discuss the anesthesia or sedation plan with you before the procedure. 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 to describe step by step (in an age-appropriate fashion) 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 give your child the proper anesthetics or sedatives/pain medications to ensure your child is asleep and feeling no pain during the procedure. During the procedure, the anesthesia provider will administer and coordinate ventilation, drug, and other treatments that support heart, lung, kidney, brain, and other critical functions. After the surgery, the anesthesiologist will continue to monitor all your child’s functions until they are stabilized in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.

Terms used in cardiac anesthesia

Here are just a few of the terms you may hear our specialists use when discussing your child’s care.

  • Central line: This flexible tube is placed in a vein to allow a clinician to give fluids, blood products, nutrition, and medications to a patient. It also allows clinicians to monitor the pressure in the heart chambers. It can stay in place longer than a catheter in a peripheral vein.
  • Arterial line: This kind of tube is placed inside an artery. It allows clinicians to measure a patient's blood pressure, as well as 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: This is the process of placing a 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. The anesthesiologist decides which size of endotracheal tube to use based on a patient's age and size.