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Heart Catheterization In Children

What you should know

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.

Care Agreement

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.

Getting Ready

The week before your child's procedure:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your child's procedure.
  • When you take your child to see his caregiver, bring a list of his medicines or the medicine bottles. Tell caregivers if your child uses herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine. If your child is allergic to any medicine, tell his caregiver.
  • Ask your child's caregiver if your child needs to stop using certain medicines before his procedure.
  • Your child will get a contrast dye to show the parts of his heart more clearly. Tell the caregiver if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. He may be given antihistamine medicine to help prevent a reaction to the dye.
  • Your child may need a chest x-ray or blood or urine tests before his procedure. Talk to your child's caregiver about these or other tests your child may need. Write down the date, time, and location for each test.

The night before your child's procedure:

Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your child's procedure:

  • Ask your child's caregiver before you give your child any medicine on the day of his procedure. Bring a list of all the medicines your child takes, or his pill bottles, with you to the hospital.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery on your child. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Caregivers may put an IV tube into your child's vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Your child may be given liquids and medicine through the IV.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you and your child before the surgery. Your child may need medicine to keep him asleep or numb an area of his body during surgery. Tell caregivers if anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.


What will happen:

  • 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 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. It is important for your child to lie flat and keep his arm or leg still to prevent bleeding.

Contact a caregiver if

  • Your child cannot make it to his procedure.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's procedure.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • Your child's symptoms get worse.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.