Your Vascular Surgery and Hospital Stay
What can I expect the morning of surgery?
When you arrive at University of Wisconsin
Hospital, you go to the First Day Surgery Unit
(FDS) where a nurse helps you prepare for
surgery. See map on last page. Your family
members and friends are given a pager and
directed to a waiting area. One family
member or friend may stay with you. There is
a waiting room at FDS. Family members can
change while you are waiting to go into the
operating room. A nurse asks you questions
about your health and helps you get ready for
surgery. An anesthesiologist meets with you
and answers your questions. An intravenous
catheter (IV) is placed in a vein of your hand
or arm. An IV is used to give you fluids and
medicines. You may be given medicine to
help you relax.
When you are taken to the operating room
(OR), your family and friends are directed to
the Surgical Waiting Area on the 2nd floor.
Here they will be given updates from the OR.
They may get a pager if they would like to
leave the waiting area. If this waiting area is
closed, they may use the D4/5 waiting area.
Sometime during the day, your family or
friends may wish to take your parking pass to
the main information desk to have it stamped
and get one pass to be used during your stay.
What can I expect in the OR?
Once you are in the OR, you meet your nurse.
He or she will answer any questions you have,
make sure you are comfortable, and explain
what is happening. The operating room is
often cold, so please let the nurse know if you
would like an extra blanket.
Electrocardiogram (ECG) patches are placed
on your chest, a blood pressure cuff is put on
your arm, and a plastic clip is placed on your
finger to check your heartbeat and oxygen
levels. The anesthesiologist asks you to
breathe oxygen through a soft plastic mask
and medicines are given through your IV.
After you are asleep, a breathing tube (ET
tube) is placed in your windpipe to breathe for
you. Other lines and monitors are added after
you are asleep.
What can I expect when I wake up from
After surgery, you are taken to the Heart and
Vascular Progressive Care Unit on D4/5. This
nursing unit is a progressive care unit. This
means that both intermediate care patients and
general care patients are admitted.
When you first arrive on the unit, you will
have IV lines, drains, and monitors. You can
expect to feel drowsy after getting to the unit.
You may hear beeps, alarms, bubbling noises,
and voices. This is normal.
Many patients who have had surgery tell us
that they recall little of the first hours after
surgery. This is normal.
Your family and friends may visit once you
are settled in your room and have had some
time to recover. A staff member will tell your
family and friends when visiting is allowed.
Visitors are asked to enter the nursing unit
from the D elevators.
What can I expect during my recovery in
As you become more stable, many of the IV
lines and monitors are removed. As your
condition improves, the nurses will watch you
closely but they will not be at your bedside as
often. This is a sign that you are doing well.
Many patients have their blood sugars
checked during their hospital stay. If you
have diabetes, you can expect to receive
insulin as a shot. Some patients who have not
needed insulin in the past will be given insulin
if their blood sugars are high. High blood
sugars are often due to the stress of surgery.
Rest is important for good healing. At the
same time, getting up and walking helps to
speed recovery. Most likely, the day after
surgery, you will be expected to walk 4 times
a day and be up in the chair for all meals. You
may be surprised how much better you feel
As soon as you are able, you will be walking
in the halls and meeting with someone from
physical therapy (PT) for exercise.
Nurses will ask you to breathe deeply, cough,
and use a breathing tool (incentive
spirometer). Good breathing helps you to get
rid of the anesthesia and prevent pneumonia.
The nurses will be checking in with you every
hour from 6am-10pm and every two hours
from 10pm-6am. The magnet on your time
strip will be moved each time. If you are
sleeping, your nurse will try not to wake you.
This hourly rounding is done to help meet
your needs and keep you safe. Questions will
be asked about pain, personal needs, position,
possessions, and prevention (safety).
Shift to Shift Handoff at the Bedside
The nurses will give their handoff report to
each other at your bedside. This is done for
your safety. The nurses will discuss your
reason for being in the hospital and the cares
the doctor has ordered for you. The nurses will
look at any IV’s or drains that you may have.
The nurses will double check any medications
that you are receiving. The nurses will talk
with you about your goals for your hospital
Care Team Visits
Your health care team will round with you
every day. Your health care team may include
the physicians, nurse practitioners, case
manager, social worker, physical therapist,
pharmacist, registered dietician, and your nurse
for the day. Your nurse will start the rounds
with any events from overnight. The nurse will
discuss your questions and concerns. The
physicians or nurse practitioners will then
discuss what your plan for the day and plan for
the stay is. The health care team will also
discuss your discharge plan daily. Care Team
Visits are a time for you to be involved with
your care. Care Team Visits are also a good
time to ask questions.
Cough and Deep Breathe
1. Place a pillow over your stomach and
chest to reduce the pain and support
yourself while coughing.
2. Breathe in deeply and slowly through
your nose. Hold it for 2 seconds.
3. Exhale slowly through the mouth.
4. Repeat twice more.
5. Breathe in again; hold it, and then
To use the incentive
1. Exhale and
place your lips
2. Take a deep
raise the Flow
between the arrows.
3. Hold the deep breath. Continue to
inhale, keeping the guide as high as
you can for as long as you can, or as
directed by your nurse or respiratory
4. Exhale and relax.
5. Repeat 10 times each hour while you
How much pain will I have?
Your doctor and nurses will work with you to
achieve good pain control. Good pain control
helps you to:
1. Feel better
2. Heal faster
3. Take deep breaths
4. Start walking and get stronger faster
5. Leave the hospital sooner
6. Have better results and avoid problems
Drug and non-drug treatments can help
prevent and control pain. Don’t worry about
getting “hooked” or “addicted” to pain
medicines. Studies show that this is very rare
unless you already have this problem. Please
ask if you have questions or concerns.
For best results:
1. Talk with your doctors and nurses about
the choices you have. You may receive
pain medicine through an IV. You may
receive oral pain medicine.
2. Ask for pain medicine when pain first
begins. Do not wait until your pain is
severe. This limits the effectiveness of the
medicine. Pain pills take 20-30 minutes to
3. The nurses will ask if the medicine is
helping your pain. You will be asked to
rate your pain using this scale.
4. The goal should be a level that allows you
to deep breathe, eat, walk, and sleep. The
doctors and nurses need you to rate your
pain so they know how well your pain
medicine is working.
5. Sometimes the doctors and nurses cannot
get rid of all of your pain. The doctors and
nurses will work with you to develop a
plan to control your pain.
Pain medicine may cause you to become
drowsy, dizzy, or lightheaded. Narcotic pain
medicine can cause constipation. Tell your
doctors and nurses if you are having any of
0-10 Number Pain Scale
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
No Mild Moderate Severe Worst
What about eating?
After surgery, you may feel sick to your
stomach. This is due to the anesthesia. You
will slowly advance from drinking liquids to
eating soft foods. Some people lose their
appetite and find that they have a taste like
metal in their mouths. Though you may not
feel like eating it is important to eat healthy to
help your wounds heal. It may be helpful to
eat small amounts of food several times a day
instead of eating three large meals.
Eat a heart healthy diet. Your nurse will give
you more information about what foods to
include and what foods to avoid.
While in the hospital, your nurses will be
keeping track of the water and other fluids that
you drink. Extra water in the body causes
your heart and lungs to work harder. To
prevent this, you may be taking a water pill
(diuretic) to rid the body of excess water.
How do I care for my incisions?
You will be instructed how to bathe at the
bedside using a chlorhexidine gluconate
(CHG) soap. The CHG soap is antibacterial
and helps prevent infections. It is very
important to do a CHG bath daily while in the
hospital. Your provider will tell you when you
are able to shower. When you shower, you
should have the stream of water hit your back,
not your incision. The shower stream may be
too powerful and remove scabs too soon. If
water goes over the incision, that is okay.
When washing, avoid rubbing your incision.
At home, use a mild, fragrance-free soap and
pat dry. Do not put ointments, lotions, or
powders on your incisions. Do not take hot
showers or baths.
Most incisions can be left open except for
incisions in the groin. These should be
covered with a dressing. Be sure your incision
is dry before you apply the dressing.
Tub baths, hot tubs, and swimming pools are
not allowed for 30 days or until all incisions
are fully healed. Any staples or sutures will
be removed at your first or second follow-up
How do I get to First Day Surgery?
Enter through the Clinics entrance. Turn left
on the “Main Street” path. At the F elevators,
go up to the 3rd floor and follow the signs to
the First Day Surgery Unit.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 9/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7719