Caring for a patient with an open sternum can be challenging but very rewarding for critical care nurses.

Congenital heart disease (CHD) has an estimated prevalence of 4 to 50 per 1000 live births, with more than 2 million Americans living with a congenital heart defect.1,2 Diagnosis usually occurs at birth or within the first few months of life; many of these children undergo palliative or corrective surgery in the first year of life. Many patients with complex CHD, such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, undergo a series of complex surgeries before final palliation or repair is achieved. Surgical and technological advances have resulted in markedly improved survival and life expectancy in patients with CHD since the first surgery for CHD (ligation of a patent ductus arteriosus) was performed in 1938.3 Postoperative recovery of these children can be one...

You do not currently have access to this content.