Pediatric Cardiac Care - After Surgery

Preparing Your Child For Surgery

What To Expect After Surgery

Smiling baby at LLUCH

Recovery In The Hospital

In the days following surgery your child's heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, intake/output (how much they drink and how much they urinate) and weight will be closely monitored. The amount of fluid your child is allowed to have daily is monitored closely after heart surgery. This includes all oral fluids as well as the amount in the IVs. After the breathing tube is removed, your child will be thirsty and may ask for a drink. It is important that you check with the nurse before giving your child anything to drink. Most children will be given sips of fluid or ice chips within the first four to eight hours after the removal of the breathing tube.

Once the breathing tube is removed it is important to encourage coughing and deep breathing. Oxygen is initially provided by a nasal cannula (small tube with prongs that goes under the nose and around the head). Nurses will begin procedures to loosen secretions in your child's lungs. These secretions will then be either coughed or suctioned. Deep breathing exercises are an important part of the older child's postoperative recovery. You may help your child by encouraging him/her to breathe deeply, cough up secretions and use the breathing exercise equipment as instructed.


Child Life Assistants who have a background in child development supervise the playrooms. They provide a variety of age-appropriate activities that allow your child to interact with other patients. The playroom provides a "safe" environment (no medical procedures are permitted). Activities the hospital playroom provides are: crafts, board games, videogames, etc. You are welcome to come with your child to the playroom. The playroom is for infants and children of any age and family members who are 14 years and older.

Going Home

Before your child goes home, the bedside nurse will give you written instructions about your child's medications, activity, diet, incision care, arrangements for follow-up care, and other special concerns. Depending on your child's heart condition, you will either view a CPR video or be taught hands-on CPR on a mannequin. Please make sure you understand this information. You will also be contacted soon after your child goes home. The surgical coordinator will call to review discharge instructions or answer any questions you may have about your child's recovery.

Your child will return to LLUCH for a check up with the surgeon one week following discharge. During this appointment, the surgeon will check your child's incision and postoperative recovery. Your surgeon will also recommend when your child should follow up with the cardiologist.

What to do before the surgery