Cardiothoracic Surgery

After Surgery: The ICU

Your family may visit you for a short time when you return from the operating room. Note that even though your surgeon is finished with the operation, you will need to be attached to supportive machines in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit (CTICU) and have some preliminary tests performed, which usually takes about an hour following your arrival in the CTICU.

Contacting the CTICU

The direct phone number for the CTICU is (212) 746-0399. Please feel free to call anytime to speak with your loved one's nurse. We ask that only one family member calls; when several people are calling, it takes your family member's nurse away from his or her bedside.

Please remember that we are only able to give out general information about your loved one's medical condition and only to a designated spokesperson. We always protect patient privacy and maintain confidentiality.

Visiting Policies

Visiting hours for the CTICU are 9 AM to 7:30 PM daily. We ask that you only have two visitors at a time. We do not allow you to have any visitors under age 14.

We do not allow cell phones to be used in the CTICU because they may interfere with the monitors. Flowers are not permitted in the patient rooms in the CTICU.

We ask that your family and friends make their first visit after surgery brief, and we will encourage your family and friends to go home and get a good night's rest. We should have the phone number of a family member whom we can reach if needed. Due to the busy nature of the CTICU environment, no family members or friends are allowed to sleep in your room at any time. Once you are moved to the Step-Down Unit, this need can be reassessed by the nursing staff there.

Waking Up After Surgery

You will wake up either the evening of your surgery or early the next morning, depending on how long it takes your body to metabolize the anesthesia. When you first wake up in the CTICU, you will have a breathing tube in your mouth until you're awake enough to breathe on your own; at that point, the tube will be removed. The CTICU nursing and physician staff will constantly assess your condition to know when you are ready to have the breathing tube removed. Usually, when you're awake enough for the tube to bother you, you're awake enough to breathe on your own shortly thereafter.

Monitoring Your Recovery

You will have a few intravenous lines in the veins and arteries of your arms and neck, which we use to monitor your blood pressure, give you intravenous medications, measure pressures in your heart and draw blood. The majority of these lines are removed on the first or second day after surgery. All of these lines are inserted while you are under anesthesia, and it will not hurt when we remove them.

You will have a Foley catheter inserted into your bladder while you are still under anesthesia. This allows the CTICU nurses and physicians to carefully monitor your urine output immediately after surgery. We usually take out this catheter when you move to the Step-Down Unit, and it does not hurt when it is removed.

All patients have their blood sugar tested frequently in the CTICU, even if they are not diabetics. We do these tests because any stress (such as surgery) tends to make your blood sugar rise. Prolonged very high blood sugar impedes optimal healing after surgery. Even if you are not a diabetic or are a "borderline" diabetic, you may receive insulin during your hospitalization to manage your sugar level. When you are discharged from the hospital, your blood sugar level should return to the level you usually have.

Visits From Your Healthcare Team

Your surgeon and members of his immediate staff will make daily morning rounds in the CTICU and Step-Down Unit. They may also round during the day or evening and, of course, come whenever there is a clinical need. Additionally, there is a full team of CTICU Attending Physicians and residents as well as Physician Assistants who help to deliver your daily care.

Weill Cornell Medicine Cardiothoracic Surgery 525 East 68th Street
Box 110
Suite M 404
New York, NY 10065 Directions
Phone: (212) 746-5166