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Hope and Health

Your source to help with your family's health from WVU Medicine Children's

Hope & Health
Articles and Updates from WVU Medicine Children's

05/5/2024 | Marissa Greene, DNP, APRN, CPNP, RN-FA

My Child Needs Heart Surgery … Now What?

Hearing the news that your child needs cardiac surgery can be extremely stressful. As a parent, you may even feel helpless. How did this happen to us? How long will the surgery take? What happens the day of surgery?

These may be some of the questions you have asked yourself. The WVU Medicine Children’s Heart Center team wants to put you and your child first. They will be sure that all your questions and concerns are answered.

What Happens First?

Your child will be presented and discussed in our Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) conference. The group will reach a decision on whether surgery is best for your child at that time and will discuss options or a plan with you.

Next, the Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Scheduling Team will contact you to offer a preoperative clinic visit with the surgery team. You will be given the option to come to clinic (the day before surgery) in combination with your scheduled surgery date or to meet the team prior to surgery being scheduled.

Our team understands that many patients must travel a far distance given that WVU Medicine Children’s is the only pediatric cardiac center in West Virgina. We want you to feel comfortable moving forward.

The Preoperative Visit

This is the first visit with the surgery team which includes the surgeons, advanced practice provider (APP), and anesthesiologist. We will discuss your child’s diagnosis, imaging, and surgical plan with the help of diagrams.

This is a great time to ask all your questions. We encourage families to write down questions to ensure you get all your questions answered.

You will complete appropriate preoperative testing that may include chest radiography (CXR), echocardiogram (EKG), labs, and, in some cases, a computer tomographic angiography (CTA), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), vascular imaging, or cardiac catheterization. You will also meet with the pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist to discuss how your child will be put to sleep during surgery. They give you instructions for when your child should stop eating and drinking prior to their procedure.

Morning of Surgery

You will arrive to WVU Children’s Hospital early in the morning, usually around 5:30 am, and you will be greeted by our front desk staff.

They will help direct you to the preoperative area on the third floor, where you will wait until it is time for surgery.

You will meet your preoperative care nurses, and they will ask you questions while getting your child prepared for surgery. Depending on your child’s age, they may receive preoperative medications to help calm them before surgery.

During Surgery

You will receive frequent surgical updates throughout the case by your bedside nurse.

After surgery is over, the surgeon will provide you with a surgical update in the consult room on the sixth floor. From that time, it’s about one-to-one-and-a-half hours before you will see your child, as they must be transported from the operating room (OR) to an intensive care unit bed and moved up to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU).

After that, the OR team will provide a handoff to the CICU team, discussing the surgery, major events, and a plan for the day. Once that is complete, you will be called to the bedside.

After Surgery

You may stay with your child in the CICU following surgery. You are welcome to stay overnight, as the room offers a small pull-out bed, lounge chair, and a bathroom. The unit allows two visitors at a time.

Morning rounds will occur each day to discuss the plan for your child that day. We welcome families to be part of this discussion, as it’s a great time to ask questions to the entire team.

Why Choose WVU Medicine Children’s for Surgery?

At WVU Medicine Children’s, we treat your child individually based on their specific needs. Our Heart Center is comprised of specially trained professionals to care for cardiac patients from the neonatal period through adulthood. We are dedicated to your child and family, helping you through the treatment process.

Congenital heart disease is a lifelong disease requiring continued, specialized care. Let the WVU Medicine Children’s Heart Center help you along your journey.

Learn more about WVU Medicine Heart Center or make an appointment.

About the Author

Marissa Greene is a pediatric nurse practitioner at the WVU Medicine Children’s Heart Center.

Greene earned her nursing and advanced practice degree from West Virginia University, a Doctor of Nursing practice degree and acute care pediatric nurse practitioner from Rush University, and Surgical First Assist from National Institute of First Assist.

She is from West Virginia and has cared for our “baby hearts” as a nurse and nurse practitioner since 2009. Greene has worked in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, outpatient clinic, and operating room. She is part of our cardiac surgery team with Christopher Mascio, MD, and Dhaval Chauhan, MD. She has been passionate about this patient population from the start. After seeing her first cardiac surgery, she instantly fell in love!. Greene especially enjoys helping families through the surgical process.

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