When you arrive at the intensive care unit after surgery, you are still asleep and a respirator will provide you with support for breathing. During surgery, after you have been put to sleep, the anesthesiologist will insert a tube through the mouth into the trachea. This tube is glued to your cheeks with adhesive tape and is connected to the respirator. Breathing with the help of a machine is necessary for some time after surgery. As long as the tube is in your throat, it is impossible to speak. The nurses in the intensive care unit are trained to assist you in this. They know the needs of a patient who has been given artificial respiration. If you wish to ask the nurses anything, you can always use the call system. The nurse will ask very specific questions based on their experience and knowledge, which you can answer by nodding your head yes or no.
For some procedures (e.g. an endo-ACAB) the breathing tube can already be removed on the operating table.
Heart rhythm, blood pressure, excretion
Your heart rhythm is monitored through a monitor that is connected by cables to adhesives on your body. Blood pressure is measured continuously through a tube (catheter) placed in the artery of your wrist. Every blood sample is taken through this tube. That way, you will only feel one needle to place the catheter.
Urine output is monitored by a tube (catheter) placed in the bladder during surgery. By placing this probe, the urine continuously flows into a urine bag and you do not have to get up to urinate.
Food and fluid intake
To provide you with the fluids and calories you need, you will receive intravenous fluids through a catheter that is usually placed in the arm and/or neck.
Draining of wound fluids
In your chest there are some drains that allow the wound fluids that are produced to drain off. Without these drains, wound fluid could accumulate in the chest and cause you pain or damage. It is important to know that all these tubes are placed after you have been put to sleep so that their placement will not cause you any discomfort or pain.
After reading the above, you may understand that all these tubes and wires are very important for the continuous monitoring of the function of your body.
A person who breathes normally and has not had surgery will regularly take a deep breath, automatically cough or will regularly clear the throat. After surgery, the muscles of the chest may be somewhat strained and it may be painful to breathe. Breathe as much as possible with your abdominal muscles. Because of your wound at the level of the chest, you will often breathe less deeply for fear of the pain and you will not be inclined to continue coughing. The adverse effect of not coughing properly is that fluid and mucus (ﬂuids) remain in the lungs. These stagnant ﬂuids can become inflamed and will make breathing difficult. Therefore, it is important that you have received breathing exercises from the physiotherapist before surgery. The physiotherapist will help and encourage you to cough up the ﬂuids.
As your stay in the intensive care unit progresses, you will notice more and more devices and tubes being removed from you. After about two days you will usually be able to eat and drink again. The length of your stay in the intensive care unit depends on the development of your health condition. So the length of stay varies from one person to another.
You will therefore stay in this department as long as your condition requires.
The anaesthetist/intensivist will decide when you will return to the cardiac surgery nursing ward. When you go to the room, you will only have one infusion left, you will get some extra oxygen through a nose mask, and you may still have the bladder probe for further monitoring of urine production (kidney function). Everything else has been removed on the ICU.