Heart Surgery & Procedures FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions from O’Connor heart surgery patients.

How much pain will I have during and after my cardiac catheterization?FAQ-photo2

How much pain will I have during and after my coronary angioplasty?

How much pain will I have after my coronary bypass or heart valve replacement surgery?

What can I expect when I awake from open-heart surgery?

What’s all the equipment around me?

When can I go home following open-heart surgery?

Does minimally invasive surgery reduce the amount of pain from conventional open-heart surgery?

When can I drive a car again?

When can I return to work following open-heart surgery?


How much pain will I have during and after my cardiac catheterization?
You will be awake during your coronary angioplasty procedure, although you’ll be given a local anesthetic at the insertion site to help you feel more comfortable. You should not feel any pain from the catheter as it moves through your body and into your heart. You may be able to go home the same day.
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How much pain will there be during and after my coronary angioplasty?
You will be awake during your coronary angioplasty procedure, although you will be given a sedative to help you relax and feel more comfortable. After the procedure, you will continue to receive medication to help you feel more comfortable. You may be able to go home the next day.
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How much pain will there be after my coronary bypass or heart valve replacement surgery?
When you wake up after surgery, you may notice pain around your incision. We will do all we can to make you comfortable following your heart surgery. For example, for the first few days after surgery, we’ll provide you with around-the-clock pain medication — you won’t have to tell us you’re in pain, and then wait for your nurse to give you more pain medication. It’s practically “automatic.” If you’re still in pain, or dizzy, or uncomfortable in any other way, we want to know about it so we can help you feel better. Studies show that people who use pain medicine heal faster and also are able to perform activities and exercise more easily. In short-term use right after surgery, pain medicine is not addictive.
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What can I expect when I awake from open-heart surgery?
When you awake from the anesthesia following your surgery, you will notice quite a few tubes in place. First, you’ll notice the breathing tube that is preventing you from speaking. When your doctor decides you’re awake enough to breathe on your own, the tube will be removed. You may have a sore throat for a little while. Any tubes in your mouth or nose to keep your stomach empty will be removed at the same time as the breathing tube. Soft wrist restraints will also be removed.
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What’s all the equipment around me?
A monitor that looks like a TV screen will be in your room. There’s another one at the nurse’s station. The heart monitor continuously displays your heart rhythm and blood pressure.
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When can I go home following open-heart surgery?
It depends upon the kind of surgery you had and your health in general. But as a general rule, you can expect to go home in five to seven days following your surgery. With beating-heart surgery, you may be able to go home in three days.
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Does minimally invasive surgery reduce the amount of pain compared to conventional open-heart surgery?
One of the advantages of minimally invasive surgery is a smaller incision, which means less healing must take place after surgery. When there is less healing to do, your body can heal much faster; however, you will still experience some pain at the incision and at the surgical site. Because it is a smaller incision, however, you could experience less pain than you might otherwise experience.
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When can I drive a car again?
Only your surgeon can give you a precise answer based on your medical history and surgical procedure.
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When can I return to work following open-heart surgery?
Generally speaking, you can return to work in about two months. If your job requires a lot of physical effort, such as heavy lifting, it could be as long as three months. Only your surgeon can give you a precise answer based on your medical history and surgical procedure.
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