Heart Catheterization: Caring for Your Child After the Procedure

Your child has had a heart, or cardiac, catheterization (say: CATH-uh-ter-ize-A-shun). Here are some instructions to help your child recover from the procedure.

You will need to care for your child's catheterization site for 5 days

The catheterization site is the place where the cardiologist put the catheter into your child's vein or artery. It is usually in the area at the top of your child's leg. This area is also called the groin. Sometimes the site is in the neck.

This site must be kept clean and dry. This will help it heal. It must be covered by a bandage for 5 days after the catheterization. You need to change the bandage once a day for each of those 5 days. You should also change the bandage whenever it gets dirty . This happens more often with babies who are still in diapers.

Each time you change the bandage, look at the site to make sure that it is healing well. On the first day, the old bandage will often have a spot of blood on it. The site itself should not be red or swollen.

Your child's medications

The nurse will explain when your child can go back to taking his or her regular medications and if there are any changes. If you have not received information about your child's medications, please ask your child's nurse.

Write any changes here:

 

 

When to call the doctor

Some children have bruising in the area around the site. A little bruising is normal, so long as the bruising gets better over time. You can tell that the bruising is going away if it is getting lighter in colour. If you notice any swelling or redness, or if your child has a fever, call your child's paediatrician or family doctor.

Your child may complain of a sore groin or leg on the side of the catheterization. Soreness for 1 or 2 days is normal. But if your child is sore for more than a couple of days, call the paediatrician or family doctor.

When to go to the emergency department

If the site starts to bleed, press firmly with a piece of clean gauze over the site for at least 5 minutes.

If the bleeding does not stop after 5 minutes:

  • Keep applying pressure and
  • Go to the nearest emergency department

If you notice your child's leg is swollen, pale in colour, or cold to the touch:

  • Call the cardiology fellow on call and
  • Go to the nearest emergency department.

Write down the number of your cardiology clinic here:

 

Sponge baths or showers only

Your child should not have a tub bath or go swimming for 5 days after the catheterization. If the site soaks in water, it is more likely to get infected. You can give your child sponge baths or showers instead.

Your child can eat normally

After your child goes home from the hospital, he or she should be able to eat normally. Your child may have an upset stomach for the first day (24 hours) after the test. This is more likely to happen if your child had a general anesthetic. If you are concerned about your child's upset stomach, call your child's paediatrician or family doctor .

Your child should not be too active for the first 5 days

After your child goes home from the hospital, he or she can do quiet activities. For about the first 5 days, your child should not be too active. For example, your child should not take long walks, ride a bicycle, or play contact sports. These things may cause bleeding at the site.

Your child's cardiologist may tell your child not to do certain activities. If you have any questions about what your child should and should not do, please call the cardiology clinic.

Key points

  • Children usually need some time to get better from a heart catheterization.
  • You will need to change your child's bandage once a day for 5 days after the procedure.
  • If the site bleeds for more than 5 minutes, keep applying pressure and go to your nearest emergency department.
  • If your child's leg is swollen, pale, or cold, call the cardiology fellow on call and go to your nearest emergency department.
  • If you notice any swelling or redness at the site, if the site is sore for more than one or two days, or if your child has a fever or an upset stomach, call your child's family doctor or paediatrician.

Lee Benson, MD, FRCP(C), FACC, FSCAI
Jackie Hubbert, RN, BScN
Jennifer Kilburn, BScN, MN
Carrie Heffernan, RN, MN

11/17/2009




Notes: