What to expect before & after heart surgery

Please share the following information with your family before your cardiac surgery procedure.

Length of stay

How long you may stay in the hospital will depend on your condition and the type of procedure you receive. Your care team will work with you to explain your particular case, and help you determine when you be able to return home.

Designated family spokesperson

Please confer with your family to determine the best person for receiving information about your case. Your surgeon will contact your designated family member by phone immediately after the procedure is completed.

4400 unit

This is the cardiothoracic “step-down” unit at Rochester General Hospital. You will typically be in this area immediately before surgery, and you will return here for cardiac rehabilitation after your procedure and a brief stay in the CTICU.

Personal belongings

Personal belongings can be left on 4400 before surgery, where they will be secured and returned to you when you return to 4400. Valuables should be taken home with family members.

Talking with the surgeon

While you are in surgery, your family should check in with the surgical hostess in the main hospital lobby. After your surgery, the surgeon will contact a designated family spokesperson by phone, and also provide an update on your progress later in the day.

Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit (CTICU)

CTICU waiting room

Located on the second floor, near the CTICU. A hospital volunteer is available every day in the waiting room, to offer information and assistance to families.

CTICU visitors

Visitors 14 and older are welcome to visit, up to two at a time. If your family would like to check in on you while you are in the CTICU between 10:30 pm and 8:30 am, they can call 585.922.4000 and ask to be connected with the CTICU.

Post-operative appearance

It’s normal to appear pale and swollen after surgery; this should reduce within a few days. You may also notice shivering, a typical response to waking up from anesthesia as well as warming up. We will gradually warm your body to its normal temperature, and give you pain medication as needed for your comfort.


Please remind your family that flowers should only be sent to you once you have returned to the 4400 Unit.

4400 visiting hours

12 to 8 pm daily. Family members should not plan to spend the night.


When you are ready to go home, you will receive self-care instructions along with guidance from our social workers to address any concerns or needs. Necessary medications will be reviewed with you and your family.