When the time comes for heart surgery, one of your greatest allies—and your surgeon’s—is the care, skill and services of an experienced cardiothoracic anesthesiologist to relieve sensation and pain during surgery and control discomfort in recovery.
While the thought of anesthesia may be stressful to some people, the risk is low. Today’s sedatives and pain medications are safer than ever, with fewer side effects and shorter duration times. That means their effects wear off when you no longer need them. But anesthesia is only as good as the doctor who administers it. This is where Harrison shines.
Specialty-trained cardiothoracic anesthesiologists are unique—we have them at Harrison
All of our cardiac surgeries are covered by specialty-trained, board certified cardiovascular anesthesiologists who have the appropriate sub-specialty training and experience to handle even the most complex cases. This is uncommon at medical centers of any size, but we have taken care to have these top-notch specialists on our team.
We—and you—need them at Harrison because very few patients come to cardiac surgery with only a heart problem. More commonly, patients have a number of other vascular issues, diabetes, kidney or lung disease—and those may be further complicated by obesity. Our cardiothoracic anesthesiologists take time to personally involve themselves in your care as part of your total heart health team. Their training, experience and vigilance go a long way in creating the most comfortable, successful health result for you.
Preparation and surgery
Even before surgery is decided upon, the anesthesiologist may assist the surgeon with complex diagnosis procedures such as echocardiography and electrophysiology procedures. Pre-surgery, there is a visit in the surgeon’s office or in the hospital for a thorough review of history and a physical. If there is a pre-existing condition, such as liver or kidney disease, care will be taken to minimize exposure to long acting medicines and tailor the anesthetic to avoid certain drugs. Expect a thorough discussion of the appropriate sedation and pain relief plan, and a review of questions or concerns so all will be understood and approved.
Based on all the available information, a highly individualized checklist is created for detailed preparation. That means everything needed to handle any situation is on hand.
There is constant evaluation throughout the procedure for the best sedation and pain control, so patients experience no discomfort—or awareness—during surgery. To keep sleeping agents in good balance throughout, a special brain wave device is used for most effective monitoring and effectiveness.
What to expect after surgery
Post operatively, our anesthesiologists are available around the clock and continue vigilant care and assist the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) team with blood and ventilator management and pain control. With no memory of the surgery itself, most patients wake up comfortably, slightly sleepy and are given any additional medicines to alleviate discomfort as needed. Many patients describe the pain of a chest incision not as stabbing pain but as a tolerable dull annoying ache—thanks to proper pain control medication. Any other potential effects from pain medications, such as nausea or constipation, can be controlled with medication.
Because pain is highly subjective, your cardiac anesthesiologist individualizes your plan based on his extensive experience, detailed knowledge of your situation and asking for your feelings and concerns. While no one is 100% pain-free after major surgery, our cardiac care team is there to ensure good comfort during the procedure. In recovery, we continue with close follow-up and any modifications needed for optimum results and the fastest possible return to the life you want.
"Becoming part of a truly model cardiac program like the one at Harrison is the reason I decided to practice here. Our very committed surgeons and staff are recognized as some of the best in the state.”