Cardiac surgery is generally done under general anaesthesia that is administered by a trained team of cardiac anaesthesiologists. Patients are often admitted a day or so before surgery and undergo relevant investigations before a plan is put together by the attending anaesthesiologist.
Before the surgery, the anaesthesiologist will need information regarding any recent illness, any previous problems with anaesthesia, any known allergies to medication, any history of asthma, bronchitis, heart problems or other medical conditions, and so on.
During cardiac surgery, most patients are put on a heart-lung machine, also called a cardiopulmonary bypass machine, that takes over the function of the lungs and the heart to pump blood through the body. Specialist anaesthesiologists monitor the machine during the procedure. Some coronary artery bypass surgeries are done without cardiopulmonary bypass. This is known as off-pump coronary artery bypass surgery.
After surgery, patients are transferred, while still anaesthetised, to the cardiothoracic intensive care unit (CT ICU) for further monitoring on a ventilator and kept sedated. The duration that a patient remains sedated after heart surgery depends upon the course of the surgery, whether there were any complications, the patient’s underlying medical condition and the progress made after the procedure. When the heart is functioning well, sedation and ventilation support is stopped.