Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Monroe Carell Jr.
Children's Hospital
at Vanderbilt
2200 Children's Way
Nashville, TN 37232

(615) 936-1000

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Planning for Heart Surgery


It's normal for you and your child to be nervous about surgery. Understanding what happens before, during, and after heart surgery can help reduce your fears. 

Before surgery
A few days before your child's surgery, you will meet with our pediatric cardiac surgery team for last minute preparations. The "pre-op" day is your opportunity to ask questions. Write down your concerns and encourage your child to talk about their fears to prepare for pre-op day. We will ask if your child has any drug allergies and the names of medicines your child is taking. Bring a list to help you remember every medication and the dosage.

Child Life Specialist and puppetThe nurse will ask questions about your child's general health, activity level and diet. She will listen to your child's heart and lungs and look in his or her mouth. If your child has a cold or fever, the operation might be postponed until your child is well.

Your child will get a chest X-ray, EKG, and echocardiogram, if needed. None of these tests are painful. Small sample of blood and urine will also be necessary.

Learning about the hospital and heart surgery
Sometime during the day, you and your child will meet a Child Life Specialist who will give you a tour of the hospital areas you will see during your stay. She will also show your child a lot of the medical equipment that may be used during his or her hospitalization. "Hank," the special pre-op puppet, will tell your child all about his heart surgery. The Child Life Specialist will also show you and your child the playroom and tell your child about the electronic games and movies her or she can have in their room. If you have any questions, she will be happy to answer them.

A pre-op nurse will talk to your child about the special bath needed before surgery and explain some things you will need to do after surgery to take care of your child's incision.

You will also be meeting with your child's cardiologist and cardiac surgeon. They will answer any questions your or your child might have about the surgery.

There might be periods during the day when you will be waiting to meet members of our team. During these times, you will be able to leave the clinic to get something to eat or take a walk.

By the end of your visit, we hope to answer all your questions. Our office is happy to answer any concerns or questions after you leave. Contact us at (615) 936-5500.

Last Edited: September 8, 2015
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