• What to Expect After Your Child’s Cardiac Catheterization

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    After the catheterization procedure, your doctor will determine whether you will be able to go home the same day or if your child will be admitted to the hospital afterward. Even if you are expecting to go home the same day, it is a good idea to bring an overnight bag for you and your child in case your child needs to be hospitalized overnight. If you have other children, try to have a backup plan for child care in case you have to spend the night at the hospital.

    Activities: For the first 24 hours after the procedure, it is best for your child to avoid heavy activities and a lot of walking and running. Plan on a relaxing evening at home - maybe playing board games or watching TV or a movie. For babies, you can usually resume your usual activities that night. Typically, children will be able to get back to their usual activities within 2 to 3 days. In some circumstances, specific activities should be avoided for a while (jumping from heights, trampolining, contact sports, gym class, etc.). Your cardiologist will explain this to you before you go home.

    Site care: Typically, your child will go home with an adhesive bandage or a small dressing where the catheters were inserted. You can replace these the next day unless they become wet or saturated. When replacing, look at the catheterization site. 

    •  Some bruising is typical and should resolve in about a week. 
    •  There may be a small lump that can be felt, but it should not be larger than the size of a dime. 
    •  Stitches are not usually placed; rather you should see one or two small puncture sites, like a snake bite. 
    •  The area around this site should not be excessively red
    •  There may be a small amount of clear drainage that may be slightly blood-tinged, but there should not be any pus coming out. 

    If you are concerned about how the site looks, see your pediatrician or cardiologist at the first opportunity. 

    Avoid having your child sit in a bathtub or swim for 72 hours, until the site has developed a scab. Showers are okay. 

    If there is significant bleeding, place pressure with your fingertips slightly above the entry site for a few minutes then slowly release pressure. If it does not stop, continue to place pressure and call your pediatrician, cardiologist, or emergency medical services.

    Pain management: Infants and children typically recover from a catheterization very well. Check with your doctor, but if your child is uncomfortable, normal doses of acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Motrin) may be given for the next 24 hours. Your doctor will know if these medicines are to be avoided in your child. Typically, strong pain medicines are not necessary after a cardiac cath. If your child is excessively fussy or irritable, call your cardiologist or pediatrician. 

    Eating/drinking: Start with some clear fluids first (apple juice, water, etc.) when you get home. Offer small portions of regular foods to make sure that the food does not create an upset stomach, and then advance to regular meals. Most children should be eating normally the evening of their procedure. If your child is not eating normally within 24 hours of the procedure, call your cardiologist or pediatrician.

    Follow up: You will be told following your procedure when to see your primary cardiologist again. It is important that you keep this appointment.