Park Cardiothoracic
& Vascular Institute

575 Coal Valley Road
Suite 504
Jefferson Borough, PA 15025
412-469-7900

Uniontown
97 Delaware Avenue
Suite 103
Uniontown, PA 15401
724-438-1845

 

Frequently Asked Questions

General Recovery Instructions
Valvular Patients
Peripheral Vascular Patients
Carotid Artery Patients
Coronary Artery Patients
Patients on Blood Thinners
Common Questions
Routine Incision Care Instructions
Ask the Doctor and Nurse


General Recovery Instructions

  • Post Operative Visits
    Generally, the surgeon will want to see you in one of their offices between 4-6 weeks after your discharge from the hospital. The surgeon will let you know if they would like to see you earlier. Once you are home, call our office to obtain an appointment. We have two office locations, be sure to let our staff know the location that is the most convenient for you.
  • Medications
    It is important that you understand what medications your should take after coming home from the hospital. At the time of discharge from the hospital, your doctor prescribed the medications to take once you are home. Do not take any other medications unless your doctor has instructed you to do so. If you are unsure of what medications you should take, call our office.
  • Driving
    You should not drive any vehicle until you see the surgeon for your routinely scheduled post-operative visit. Driving interferes with healing of the breast bone and can cause pain. Like any broken bone, time is needed to properly heal the bone.
  • Activity
    Common sense is the rule to tell you what you should and should not do. Remember, you just went through major surgery. Your body needs time to recover. Rest when you are tired. Try to do a little more each day. Avoid any strenuous activities and lifting weights greater than 50 pounds for the next three months, or as directed by your surgeon.
  • Return to Work
    After our surgeon exams you at your routinely scheduled post-operative visit, ask the surgeon if you are able to return to work. You can discuss the particular requirements of your job and the surgeon can advise you accordingly.

Valvular Patients
Review your SBE (Subacute bacterial endocarditis or Infective endocardities) precaution card. If you did not receive one in the hospital, let us know and we will give you one at your post-operative visit.

Patients with artificial valves will be required to take IV antibiotics whenever an invasive dental procedure is performed. Examples of invasive procedures include: dental cleaning and dental extractions. Inform your doctor or dentist that you have an artificial valve before the procedure. If you are unsure if you need antibiotic protection, please call our office.

Our surgeons would like to see you every two years to check on the status of your heart valve. Please call our office to arrange your visit.

Peripheral Vascular Patients
Notify the surgeon if you experience a change in the color, temperature, pain or swelling in the operative leg.

Some swelling in the operative leg is normal. Remember to elevate your legs several times a day for an hour or so. Remember to elevate your legs higher than the level of your heart to achieve the best possible drainage.

Periodic evaluation of the blood flow to your lower extremities is advisable. These will be scheduled at 3 months post-operative time, and 6 months post-operatively, thereafter, annually. Call our office 4 weeks in advance to schedule your tests and office visit.

Carotid Artery Patients
Call our office if you experience any of the symptoms that you had before surgery. Call if you experience any weakness or numbness in your arms or legs, or any change in your vision.

A carotid duplex is a test to measure the blood flow in your carotid artery. You will need this test 6 months after your surgery and every year thereafter. Please call our office and we will assist you in scheduling your test and office visit.

Coronary Artery Patients
Your surgeon will want to see you in four to six weeks after your discharge from the hospital. If you have questions during this time please call our office. Once you have been seen by your surgeon, your care will be returned to your primary care physician and cardiologist.

Remember, coronary artery bypass procedures are NOT a permanent cure for coronary artery disease. You need to manage the risk factors which contributed to your heart disease. This may be smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, or excessive stress. Please discuss ways you can improve your health with your family physician, cardiologist and surgeon.

Patients on Blood Thinners
If you are taking anticoagulants (blood thinners) be sure to follow your instructions. Make sure you receive instructions before your discharge concerning who will regulate your blood thinner.

After each blood test, you need to hear from your doctor concerning the dose of the blood thinner. If you do not hear from their office, please call them.

Remember, many medications will interfere with your blood thinner. Make sure you doctor and pharmacist are aware that you are taking Coumadin. Anytime you require a procedure that involves any degree of invasiveness, you need to inform the physician that you are taking a blood thinner.

If you need to stop the blood thinner for any reason, check with your doctor to review the procedure.

Common Questions

  1. I don't have the same sensation around my incision. When will this go away?
    Numbness around the incision is normal and can persist for up to six months.
  2. The leg that the vein was removed continues to swell. Is this normal? What should I do?
    Swelling of the leg where the vein was removed is normal. This could last for several months. The remaining veins need to learn how to take over for the role of the harvested vein. This will take time. In the meantime, elevating the legs higher than the level of the heart for extended periods throughout the day will reduce the swelling.
    If swelling is present in both legs (unless veins were taken from both legs), please call your family doctor.
  3. When can I drive?
    At your routinely scheduled post-operative visit, your surgeon will tell you when you can resume driving from a surgical perspective. The final say in determining if you can resume driving will be up to your family physician.

Routine Incision Care Instructions

  1. Clean the incision with soap and water. You may do this in a shower. Do not rub the incision harshly, pat dry gently. Do not take a bath until the incisions are healed.
  2. If the incision is reddened and the skin in taunt, apply warm compresses to the wound for 10 minutes three times a day.
  3. If the incision begins to drain:
    1. Clean incision with normal saline solution.
    2. Dry with gauze and cover the draining part of the incision with sterile gauze.
    3. Do not put any antibiotic cream or lotion on the incision.
  4. Call your surgeon if:
    1. You develop a fever of 101 degrees, or you develop chills.
    2. The redness around the incision spreads.
    3. The swelling increases in size.
    4. The area becomes warm and tender.
    5. The drainage, increases, changes color and/or consistency, or becomes odorous.
  5. Your doctor may want to see you in the office.
    If the wound is opened, packing may be necessary. Initially, the packing may need to be changed 2 to 3 times a day. If your insurance permits, we will ask a home care nurse to assist in the care of your wound at home. The nurse can teach you or a family member how to do the dressings.

    As the wound heals, the frequency of dressing changes will decrease to once a day. Home care will usually bring supplies or you may get the supplies from a drug store.
  6. Your doctor may give you specific instructions for your incision care. The following instructions are general guidelines.
    1. Clean around the wound with soap and water. If able to shower, remove dressings and allow the wounds to be cleaned under the flow of water from the shower. Do not take a bath with open wounds until your surgeons indicates that it is permitted.
    2. Loosely pack the wound with 1/4 inch plain gauze. Do not force the packing in, only place it lightly at the bottom of the wound. This packing will absorb the secretions and help wound healing.
    3. If the dressing is to be applied as "Wet to Dry," soak the gauze in normal saline, then squeeze out most of the fluid so the dressing is damp. When removing the gauze do not wet it again. This drying action is what helps the wound to heal. The dressing adheres to the infected material in the wound and when the dressing is removed, it helps remove the infected material.
    4. If the skin around the wound appears to be closing, but the deep part of the wound still needs packing, call your surgeon. The wound heals from the inside to the outside. If the skin closes before the deep part of the wound has healed, infection may recur.
  7. If you have swelling in the leg with the incision, elevate the leg so the leg is higher than the level of the heart. Lie on your couch and prop your leg up so it is higher than the level of your heart. Do this for 30 minutes at a time, as often as you can.
  8. Remember to eat nutritious foods. If you are diabetic, control your glucose levels. Good nutrition promotes healing. Exercise will also enhance wound healing. By increasing the circulation to the wound, better wound healing occurs.
  9. Smoking interferes with wound healing. It constricts the blood flow to your incisions. Every effort should be made to quit completely and immediately.

Ask the Doctor and Nurse

The surgeons and nurses of Park Cardiothoracic and Vascular Institute are here to help answer your health questions. General questions pertaining to your health, recovery, or cardiovascular needs may be addressed in this section of our web site. The intent of this section is to answer general health questions, not replace the advice of your physician. It is not possible to give specific health advice without meeting you, examining you, and obtaining a detailed health history. General questions may be asked of either the surgeon or nurse. They will be reviewed each week and answered the following week.

If you have questions for the surgeon, simply email:
ParkC@parkcardio.com

If you have questions for the nurse, simply email:
SarconeT@parkcardio.com