Cardiac Anesthesia

If you or a loved one needs heart surgery, it’s reassuring to know that Spectrum has a team of anesthesiologists who specialize in cardiac anesthesia. This means they have completed subspecialty fellowship training and have acquired extensive cardiac anesthesia experience.

This is important because many people with heart disease have other health conditions—such as hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes or lung disease— that make managing anesthesia during surgery more complex. This requires sophisticated anesthesiology expertise, including the ability to:

  • Administer medications specifically designed to reduce stress on your heart and other body systems during surgery, carefully tailored to your unique health needs
  • Use intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) and other cutting-edge technology to help guide cardiac surgeons during the operation

Because of our partnerships with the top heart centers in Maine, Spectrum anesthesiologists successfully care for thousands of heart surgery patients each year—a level of experience that is unmatched in this region.

What to expect from your anesthesiologist during cardiac surgery

As an integral member of your cardiac surgery team, your Spectrum anesthesiologist will be involved in every phase of your operation:

In the days or weeks before your surgery, your anesthesiologist will meet with you to

  • Review your medical history and current health status
  • Answer any questions you may have about anesthesia
  • Develop an individualized anesthesia plan
  • To reduce your anxiety, your anesthesiologist may administer a preoperative sedative before you’re taken to the OR holding area
  • In the holding area, intravenous (IV) and arterial lines will be started. The arterial line is similar to an IV except that it’s placed in the radial artery and allows for your blood pressure, heart rate and blood chemistry to be continuously monitored during surgery.
  • A central venous line or pulmonary catheter will be placed just before surgery to allow medication to be administered to the heart; this line or catheter also is used to monitor heart, lung and circulation pressure and function
  • You are connected to equipment that monitors your vital signs
  • Fresh oxygen is delivered to you through a mask, and the general anesthetic is administered through your IV line
  • Once you’re asleep, an endotracheal (breathing) tube is placed through your mouth into your airway
  • During your operation, your Spectrum anesthesiologist directs your anesthesia and manages your body’s vital functions including heart rate, blood pressure, heart rhythm and breathing
  • Your anesthesiologist also is responsible for fluid and blood replacement during surgery, should you require it
  • You are transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU) for continuous, high-level monitoring after surgery
  • Because of the anesthetic, you will be asleep after the surgery and will be placed on a ventilator (breathing machine) for a short period of time
  • Once you’re ready to breathe on your own, the ventilator is removed
  • You will be moved out of the ICU to a regular cardiac unit within a few hours to a few days


If you have any questions about cardiac anesthesia, please call the main number of the hospital where your surgery is scheduled and ask for the anesthesiology office. Your comfort and safety are our top priorities.

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