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Patients are taken to the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) immediately after surgery, where the ENT team works to remove the breathing tube within the next one or two days. Patients usually remain in the CVICU for five to seven days, or longer if they need continued cardiac or airway monitoring. During this critical time of healing, the otolaryngology team is readily available for bedside bronchoscopy procedures in the CVICU to keep the child’s breathing tube clear and in the right place. This team effort helps to ensure that the child is as safe as possible during the days after surgery.
Patients usually have a bronchoscopy a week or so after removal of their breathing tube, with another follow-up bronchoscopy one or two weeks later. After that, a schedule is set for further follow-up endoscopic examinations to monitor the growth and openness of the airway.
After the initial bronchoscopy following surgery, the child may be managed for a few more days in the main hospital acute care floor, where he or she is prepared for discharge to home. The length of a patient’s hospital stay after surgery depends on the extent of the cardiothoracic surgery, the health of his or her lungs, and overall medical condition.
At all times before and after the operation, the team works closely with each patient’s referring doctors, who often remain involved throughout the patient’s stay with us. The patient’s own cardiologist frequently oversees the postoperative recovery and performs further routine surveillance of the patient, though our specialists remain always accessible to answer questions or in case any further specialized surgery is needed.
Once the child has recovered from surgery, the Aerodigestive and Airway Reconstruction Center physicians and therapists will evaluate and optimize breathing, speaking, and swallowing for the best possible long-term results.