Day of Surgery

Learn what to expect the day of open-heart surgery and when you wake up from anesthesia.

Please understand that sometimes the surgery schedule can change with little notice to accommodate urgent surgeries that arise. If the date or time of your surgery changes, we'll inform you as soon as possible.

Check In

On the morning of your surgery, Mountain View Hospital (El Camino Health) two and a half hours before your scheduled surgery time. Go directly to the preoperative/short stay unit (2B) on the second floor of the hospital.

If you arrive after 7 a.m., check in at patient registration (1B), near the hospital's main lobby entrance on the first floor.

Family Members

Your comfort and well-being are very important to us, and we understand that having loved ones close by can be comforting to you and them. That's why we offer family-centered care that ensures your loved ones are involved in your care and that they're well-informed throughout your stay. They're an important part of the healing process, so we offer a welcoming environment where they can support you.

You can bring one person to wait with you before surgery. Once you go to the operating room, they're welcome to stay in the surgical waiting room on the second floor, in the 2B waiting area. After surgery, your surgeon will meet with them there and discuss your condition.

Surgical Prep

Before you go to the operating room:

  • A surgical technician will shave your body hair from your chest to your ankles to lower the risk of infection.
  • You'll meet your anesthesiologist, who will answer any questions.

When you arrive in the operating room, your anesthesiologist will start an IV and give you medicine to put you to sleep (anesthesia). The operating room staff will apply monitoring devices and breathing and drainage tubes once you're asleep.

You'll remain in the operating room between three to five hours.

Waking Up from Anesthesia

After surgery, you'll be taken to the critical care unit (CCU) while you're still asleep. A mechanical ventilator will continue to breathe for you until you’re awake and able to breathe on your own — usually between one and six hours after surgery or when the team feels you’re ready.

Most people wake up between two to four hours after they arrive in the CCU. It usually takes an additional two to four hours to become fully awake. It's normal to feel tired, confused, nauseated, or feverish or cold. You may also feel pain or tenderness around your surgical incisions. Your nurse will assess your condition and pain level.

A dressing will cover your incisions for the first 24 hours. After that, the dressing will be removed to expose the incisions to air, which promotes healing. Usually, your nurse will help you out of bed and into a chair the evening of your surgery.

Find out what to expect during your recovery in the hospital.