Removing the breathing tube
The tube from the ventilator to your lungs helps you breathe during
your CABG surgery. Your doctor will remove this tube when you are conscious and
able to breathe on your own. Less frequently, you may be completely alert, yet
unable to breathe without a ventilator. This means that you have not yet
regained enough strength.
Since your breathing tube reaches a long way down into your windpipe,
you may need to exhale forcefully to help your respiratory
therapist remove it. Even if you have a strong gag reflex, the
tube's removal should not cause you to vomit, because the nasogastric tube,
also called an NG tube, will have drained any fluids from your stomach out
through your nose both during and after surgery.
Taking oral medications
When your doctor thinks you are ready, your NG tube will be removed
and you should be able to swallow food as well as medications. A major step in
your recovery is switching from intravenous (by IV line) to oral (by mouth)
medications. The ability to do this shows that you are fully conscious and are
at a certain level of medical independence. Your IV line will remain in even
though you are able to take pills.
Removing other tubes and monitors
You will have several tubes and monitors placed in and around your
body to monitor your progress during recovery. Careful monitoring is needed
after surgery to check for complications. Within a few days after you begin
your recovery, these tubes are usually removed. This shows that your recovery
is moving forward and you don't need to be monitored as closely.
You may no longer need the urinary catheter that was placed in your
bladder. When you are in the step-down unit, you may be able to move in and out
of bed. Using a bathroom or bedpan to urinate may be more practical and
What to think about
After you have been transferred to a step-down unit, you will most likely
be in the hospital only a few more days. During this time, your medical team
will continue to monitor your condition and watch for any complications that
may delay your return home. You will need to meet another set of criteria
before you can go home.