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Heart Catheterization In Children


A heart catheterization is a procedure to look at your child's heart and blood vessels. Caregivers can also use the catheter to check the pressure in your child's heart and lungs.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.


A heart catheterization could cause bleeding, a bruise, and soreness where the catheter went in. Your child could bleed so much that he may need a blood transfusion or surgery to repair the hole. He may get a blood clot in his leg or arm. Your child could have an irregular heartbeat or heart attack. He could get a collapsed lung or an infection. Without this procedure, your child's condition may get worse. These problems may become life-threatening.


Before your child's procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give him medicine or liquids.
  • Telemetry is continuous monitoring of your child's heart rhythm. Sticky pads placed on his skin connect to an EKG machine that records his heart rhythm.
  • Medicines:
    • Antihistamines help prevent a reaction to the dye used during your child's heart catheterization.
    • A sedative is given to help him stay calm and relaxed.
    • Steroids decrease inflammation and help prevent a reaction to the contrast dye.
  • Anesthesia is medicine to make your child comfortable during the procedure. Caregivers will work with you to decide which anesthesia is best for your child.
    • Local anesthesia is a shot of medicine put into your child's arm or leg. It is used to numb the area and dull the pain. Your child may still feel pressure or pushing during the procedure.
    • General anesthesia will keep your child asleep and free from pain during the procedure. Anesthesia may be given through your child's IV. He may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down his throat. The tube may cause your child to have a sore throat when he wakes up.

During your child's procedure:

  • An incision will be made into a blood vessel in your child's arm or leg. Your child's surgeon will insert a catheter through the incision and use an x-ray to carefully guide the catheter to the heart. He will inject a dye so he can see your child's blood vessels, heart tissue, or valves more clearly. Sometimes caregivers will use 2 catheters to look at both sides of the heart.
  • When the catheter is removed, a caregiver will apply pressure to the incision site for at least 30 minutes to help decrease the risk of bleeding. Stitches may be used to close your child's incision wound. Caregivers will cover the incision wound with a pressure bandage, and may use a sandbag to decrease further bleeding.

After your child's procedure:

Your child will be taken to a room to rest until he is fully awake. Caregivers will monitor him closely for any problems. Do not let your child get out of bed until his caregiver says it is okay. When caregivers see that he is okay, your child may go home. If your child is staying in the hospital, he will be taken to his room.

  • Antinausea medicine may be given to calm your child's stomach and decrease vomiting.
  • Your child will need to lie flat and be still for several hours to prevent bleeding. Your child's caregiver will tell you when it is okay for your child to get out of bed. Do not raise the head or foot of your child's bed without asking a caregiver. Do not remove your child's pressure bandage or sandbag. Tell your child's caregiver if your child is uncomfortable. There may be ways to help your child be more comfortable.
  • Your child will be able to eat and drink gradually after the procedure. He will begin with ice chips or clear liquids such as water, broth, juice, and clear soft drinks. If his stomach does not become upset, he may then eat soft foods, such as ice cream and applesauce. Once he can eat soft foods easily, he may slowly begin to eat solid foods. Encourage your child to drink liquids to help to flush the dye from his body.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Heart Catheterization In Children (Inpatient Care)

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