Critical Care

Provider holding hand of sick patient.

Thank you for the opportunity to care for you or your loved one in the intensive care unit (ICU). The ICU can be an intimidating place. Our team strives to provide high-quality care with compassion to set you at ease. Our critical care and anesthesia specialists promote a healing environment and use evidence-based medicine to achieve the best outcomes for the most critically ill patients. Our intensivists are board-certified in both anesthesiology and critical care medicine, a distinction we hope will inspire your confidence.

We focus not only on delivering optimal patient care, but also on providing communication and support for family members also affected by a loved one's critical illness. We invite you to view this educational video and download our Patient/Family Empowerment and Advocacy Checklist to guide you through the ICU stay.

Pre and Post Open Heart Surgery

If you're watching this video, you or someone you know will soon be having open heart surgery.

In the next two minutes, you will learn what to expect before, during, and after your surgery.

As the surgery date nears, you will spend time here in the pre-anesthesia clinic for preoperative lab tests and to meet your anesthesiology team. You will receive preoperative paperwork that includes your surgery date and time. Please make sure to read it thoroughly and follow instructions.

The day of surgery, you'll be admitted to the hospital, and a nurse will prep you for surgery in the preoperative bed. Here, you will speak with your cardiac, anesthesia, and surgical teams.

You may receive light sedation. An arterial line will be placed. You will be given time to visit with family. While you're being prepped, the surgical team is completing important safety checks, including documenting surgical instruments that will be used during surgery.

When you arrive to the OR, you'll see many faces, including anesthesiologists, nurses, surgeons, and perfusionists. Those are professionals who specialize in the heart and lung machine used during your surgery.

The medical team will help you move onto the operating table and make sure you are safe, as well as comfortable. Several monitoring devices will be attached, and the anesthesia team will put you into a deep sleep.

After your surgery, you are taken to the Intensive Care Unit. Here, the surgical team provides the ICU team a full report of your surgery.

When you first arrive, you'll have a breathing tube along with vascular catheters and IV medications. The breathing tube stays until you are awake and breathing on your own.

The ICU can be a noisy place. Don't worry.

Everything you hear is the sound of a multidisciplinary team of medical specialists and equipment that are in place to give you the highest quality of care.

You and your family also play an important role in your recovery.

You'll be given a checklist of goals to help you communicate with the medical team and to get you out of the Intensive Care Unit as quickly as possible.

These goals include controlling your pain, the removal of the breathing tube, central lines, urinary catheters, and IV catheters. Following the guidelines on this checklist helps.

Use your incentive spirometry every hour to keep your lungs healthy post surgery.

Turn the TV off at night to help you sleep and open the blinds during the day to keep you alert. Keep up with your oral hygiene and follow the medical team's advice on movement.

Lastly, work with your medical team to set and achieve daily goals. All of this will help immensely in your recovery. In the meantime, don't worry. You're in great hands.

Multidisciplinary support

Our team provides care in multiple ICUs throughout The University of Kansas Health System. These include:

  • In the cardiothoracic surgical ICU (CTICU), you will receive excellent care provided by our multidisciplinary team of anesthesiology intensivists, cardiac anesthesiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, nurses and respiratory therapists. Multidisciplinary rounds occur every morning and often throughout the day. We encourage family member participation. In the CTICU, we focus on the postoperative care of cardiac surgical patients, addressing hemodynamic stability, ventilator management and pain cessation using multimodal pain therapies. State-of-the-art cardiovascular support, including cardiac mechanical circulatory devices, such as ventricular assist devices (VAD) and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapies, are routinely provided.
  • In the cardiac intensive care unit (CCI), anesthesiology intensivists work alongside cardiologists to attain the highest level of care for patients with coronary disease, rhythm disturbances and heart failure. Daily rounds occur with much time spent connecting with and educating patients and families. Invasive hemodynamic monitoring is common. Evaluations for advanced heart failure therapies, including mechanical support and heart transplantation, often occur in the CCI.
  • In the neurocritical care unit (NEI), anesthesiology intensivists partner with neurology intensivists to provide care for patients with various neurologic disorders. This team also cares for postoperative neurosurgical patients. Brain injury can often lead to respiratory and blood or tissue challenges. Our intensivists are experienced and knowledgeable in this specific area of medicine. Focus on family members' understanding and and ability to cope with these difficult processes is paramount. The multidisciplinary approach in the NEI offers both patients and families the highest level of care.