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Fasciotomy in Children
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Care of a fasciotomy will depend on where on your child's body the surgery was done. It will also depend on why he or she needed it. For any fasciotomy, it is important to care for the surgery area by keeping it clean and checking for signs of infection. Your child may also need physical or occupational therapy if he or she has trouble using an arm or leg after surgery.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your child's stitches or staples come apart.
- Your child has bleeding from the surgery area that does not stop after 10 minutes of firm pressure.
- Your child cannot move the arm or leg that had the fasciotomy.
- Your child has signs of infection in the surgery area, such as red streaks, pus, or a foul odor.
- Your child has new or increased swelling in the surgery area.
Call your child's doctor or surgeon if:
- Your child has a fever.
- Your child has new or worsening pain in the surgery area.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
Your child may need any of the following:
- Antibiotics help fight or treat a bacterial infection.
- Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you give your child his or her medicine.
- Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
- Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Look for signs of infection every time you care for your child's wound. Signs include red streaks, pus, and a foul-smelling discharge. Teach your older child to look for these signs every day.
- Wash your hands before and after you take care of the wound.
- Keep the bandage clean and dry. Do not stop using the bandage on the wound unless your child's healthcare provider says it is okay.
- Clean the wound and change the dressing as often as directed by your child's healthcare provider.
- If your child has strips of medical tape across the incision area, do not peel them off. They will fall off on their own in about 7 to 10 days. You can trim the edges as they start to peel to keep them from tearing.
- Apply firm, steady pressure to your child's wound if it bleeds. Use a clean towel or gauze.
If your child needs a compression bandage, make sure it is not wrapped too tightly. You should be able to fit 2 fingers between the bandage and your child's skin. The area may need to be removed and wrapped regularly. Your child's healthcare provider will tell you how often to do this.
Care for your child:
- Have your child rest as needed. Rest can help your child heal and prevent him or her from causing more damage to the surgery area. Try to have your child rest often during the day. Your adolescent may need to wait up to 3 weeks before he or she can drive. Ask when your child can return to normal activities. The time will depend on your child's age and why he or she had the fasciotomy. It will also depend on where the fasciotomy was done. Ask your child's healthcare provider when your child can start playing sports again.
- Elevate the area, if possible. If your child had a fasciotomy in an arm or leg, raise the area above the level of his or her heart as often as possible. Prop the area on pillows to keep it elevated comfortably. Elevation helps decrease swelling.
- Apply ice to the area as directed. Ice helps relieve pain and swelling, and may help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover the pack or bag with a towel before you apply it to your child's skin. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, or as directed.
- Have your child bathe as directed. Your child may be able to take a shower about 2 days after surgery. Remove the bandage before the shower. Do not remove the tape strips covering the incision area. Pat the area dry with a clean towel after the shower. Wrap the incision area as directed after your child's skin is dry. Teach your older child how to shower safely. Show him or her how to wrap the bandage after the skin is dry. You should still check the bandage for your older child to make sure it is not too tight.
- Have your child use crutches if directed. If your child's fasciotomy was done on a leg, your child may need to use crutches until he or she heals. Crutches will help keep pressure off your leg. Ask your healthcare provider how long you need to use crutches.
- Offer your child a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods give your child's body the nutrients it needs to heal the wound. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, grains (breads and cereals), dairy, and protein foods. Protein foods include meat, fish, nuts, and soy products. Protein, calories, vitamin C, and zinc help wounds heal. Ask for more information about the foods your child should eat to improve healing.
- Have your child drink more liquids. Liquids prevent dehydration that can decrease the blood supply to your child's wound. Ask your child's healthcare provider how much liquid your child needs to drink each day.
Take your child to physical or occupational therapy if directed:
A physical therapist can teach your child exercises to improve muscle strength and flexibility. An occupational therapist can teach your child how to do daily activities in a new way if needed. Physical and occupational therapy can help reduce pain and make movement easier.
Follow up with your child's doctor or surgeon as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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