When You Need Us, Here’s What Happens

Your pediatrician or family physician will make an initial referral to Riley Hospital for Children Cardiovascular Surgery at Indiana University Health or to one of our cardiac surgery offices. Usually, your first appointment will be made with one of our pediatric cardiologists.

We review your child's past records and complete the appropriate tests-such as X-rays and echocardiograms- in an effort to make the correct diagnosis for the child. We then send the test results and a letter of recommendation from the cardiologist to the surgery department.

The scheduling clerk or the nurse will contact you from the surgery department to discuss the surgery and options for dates of care. Scheduled cases are reviewed each week by the entire heart team. All tests results and films are shown and discussed by the group to develop the best plan of care for your child.

You and your child will arrive at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health Day Surgery the day before the surgery. During the day, you will meet the anesthesiologist and the surgeon, and have a tour of the intensive care unit (ICU). Necessary labs will be done as well as any additional testing ordered by the surgeon. These tests are performed on an outpatient basis. If you are from out of town, the surgery office will assist you with overnight lodging close to the hospital (usually in the Ronald McDonald House).

On surgery day, you will be instructed to arrive approximately 30 minutes before the start time of the procedure. If necessary, your child will be pre-medicated to help with his or her anxiety and fears.

You will be shown to the surgery waiting area. Once your child is taken to surgery, a nurse liaison from the operating rooms will make rounds approximately every hour to update you on the progress of the surgery. She or he will relay any pertinent information from the surgeon during your wait.

Following surgery, most patients go directly to the Riley at IU Health Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for the first one to three days. Parents have 24-hour visitation with their child on this unit. When the patient is stable, he or she is then transferred to an age-specific unit. The average hospital stay for an open heart procedure is five to seven days. The average hospital stay for a closed heart procedure is two to four days. The length of each patient's stay in the hospital depends on his or her medical needs.

Upon discharge from the hospital, you will be given specific instructions for your child's home care, as well as contact numbers should you have any problems or concerns.

Your child will be scheduled for a routine postoperative evaluation with the cardiologist and the surgeon approximately one month from the surgery date.

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