After Pediatric Heart Surgery
After pediatric heart surgery, medical equipment is used to monitor and care for your child during their hospitalization. Though this equipment can be overwhelming, these medical devices are important during your child’s recovery process. Below are some of the common medical devices we use and what function they serve.
Please be aware that you may see some of these devices before or after your child’s surgery, as well as during their hospital stay. If you have a specific question about any of the equipment being used, please ask your bedside nurse or doctor for clarification.
There are two types of incisions that can be made in the operating room: Sternotomy or a thoracotomy. The incision used depends on the type of surgery needed.
A sternotomy is an incision made on the front of the chest over the sternum. The sternum is separated and opened allowing surgeons access to the heart. Immediately after the operation, sternal wires and skin sutures are used to close the sternum and incision. Sometimes it is necessary to leave the sternum open for a brief period (usually 1-3 days) to allow time for swelling to decrease. If the sternum is left open, a dressing is sewn to the edges of the skin to cover the heart. A clear dressing is placed over this to cover the chest wall, and will remain there until the chest is closed. If the sternum is closed, a sticky tape called Steri-Strips and/or skin glue called Collodion is applied over the incision to keep it clean while it heals. The skin glue wears off over a two-week period, at which time the skin should be completely healed.
A thoracotomy is an incision made on the patient’s side that usually begins just below the armpit and extends around to the back. After surgery, the incision is closed and covered with Steri-Strips and Collodion.