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A Patient's Guide to Heart Surgery

Arriving in the Operating Room

Operating room lights during heart surgeryThe operating room is cool, brightly lit, and can sometimes be a little noisy. If it is too cold for you, please ask your nurse for a blanket. An operating room nurse will ask you for your name, age and the name of your surgeon, and will make sure that you understand the intended surgery. To guarantee that you are properly identifed, your chart and identification bracelet will be checked again in the operating room.

When you are ready, the cardiothoracic anesthesia team will start to administer your anesthesia, which will begin to make you feel sleepy and heavy. Your cardiothoracic anesthesiology team will be using state-of-the-art equipment and safety features, including monitors and fail-safe mechanisms that ensure you are safely anesthetized at all times. The team will constantly monitor your electrocardiogram, pulse rate, blood pressure, respiration and other vital body functions.

About Your Anesthesia

The general anesthesia you receive before surgery will allow you to sleep during the operation. This anesthetic, which will quickly put you to sleep, is usually given by injection through an intravenous line into your vein. The cardiothoracic anesthesiologist assigned to you will be assisted by a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) in the operating room. No anesthesia will be started without the direct supervision of your cardiothoracic anesthesiologist.

Using and Replacing Blood Products

Because the surgeons at USC Cardiothoracic Surgery are committed to transfusion-free medicine and try to do as many surgeries as possible without the use of blood products, many surgery patients do not require blood transfusions. But if blood is required, the USC Blood Donor Center can collect and store a patient's own blood through autologous blood donation. For patients who live away from USC, our blood bank can work with the patient's local blood center to arrange for autologous donations. Blood donated by volunteers is also available through the USC Blood Donor Center and has been rigorously screened and tested for safety.

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