On the day before your aortic repair surgery, you’ll be asked to wash your chest and legs using a special soap that helps kill bacteria to prevent infection. You’ll be given instructions on which medications to stop taking and which medications you can take the morning of surgery.
You should refrain from eating or drinking after midnight.
On the morning of your aortic repair surgery you’ll be asked to arrive at the hospital as directed, usually about 2 hours before your scheduled surgery. Bring all your medications with you to ensure that your home medication list is correct. Take only those medications your doctor has allowed with just a sip of water. Your blood pressure and vital signs will be checked when you are admitted.
Immediately before your aortic repair surgery, you’ll be taken to the pre-op holding area where you’ll meet the anesthesiologist. You’ll have an IV placed in your arm that will deliver antibiotics. The anesthesiologist will give you medicine to help you relax and make you sleepy.
Once anesthesia is given, you’ll be completely asleep. To help with breathing during the surgery, you’ll have a breathing tube that is connected to a ventilator. You’ll also have a bladder catheter.
During your procedure, your surgeon will make an incision down the middle of your breastbone, approximately 7 to 8 inches long. You’ll be connected to a heart-lung bypass machine, which allows the surgeon to stop your heart from beating and moves the blood away from your heart.
The average surgery takes about 3 to 5 hours, depending on the amount of work that needs to be done.
After surgery is complete, your breastbone will be put back together with metal wires. Your skin will be closed with sutures and, in some cases, staples. Drainage tubes will be put in your chest cavity to drain blood and fluid. Also, temporary pacemaker wires will be placed in case your heart rate becomes too slow or requires assistance with rhythm.