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Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Repair Surgery: Before Your Surgery

What is thoracic aortic aneurysm surgery?

Aortic aneurysm repair is surgery to fix a weak and bulging section of the aorta. The aorta is the large blood vessel (artery) that carries blood from the heart through the chest and belly to the rest of the body. An aortic aneurysm that is not repaired may burst (rupture). This can be life-threatening.

To repair the aneurysm, a doctor uses a man-made tube (called a graft) to replace the weak and bulging section of the aorta in your chest. The doctor will make a cut in your chest. General anesthesia is used for this surgery.

You will probably spend 5 to 7 days in the hospital. You will need to take it easy for at least 4 to 6 weeks at home.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How do you prepare for surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You will be asleep during the surgery.
  • The surgery will take about 2 to 6 hours.
  • You will probably go to the intensive care unit (ICU) after surgery. You will probably stay in the ICU for 1 or 2 days before you go to your regular hospital room.
  • You will have a breathing tube down your throat. This is usually removed within 6 hours after surgery.
  • You may have a thin plastic tube in your nose that goes down the back of your throat into your stomach to drain stomach juices. It is usually removed when the breathing tube is removed.
  • You may have one or more tubes coming out of your chest to drain fluid that can build up after surgery. The chest tubes are usually removed within 2 days after surgery.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.