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Reye's Syndrome


Reye's syndrome (RS) is a potentially life-threatening condition that can cause brain swelling and liver failure. The cause is unknown. Children are the most at risk if they have recently had the flu or chickenpox and take medicine that contains aspirin or salicylates. RS may also affect adolescents and adults.


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.

Arterial line:

This tube is also called an "art line" or an "A-line". It is placed into an artery, usually in the wrist or groin. The groin is the area where your child's abdomen (belly) meets his upper leg. The art line is attached to tubing with liquid in it. This liquid helps keep the tubing from getting plugged. The tube may be used for measuring your child's blood pressure or for drawing blood.

CVP line:

A CVP line is also called a central line. It is an IV catheter or tube. It is put into a large blood vessel near your child's neck, groin, or near his collarbone. The CVP line may be used to give medicines, draw blood, or to check your child's heart.

Foley catheter:

This is a tube that is put into your child's bladder to drain urine. Do not pull on or kink the catheter. Do not lift the bag that is connected to the catheter above your child's waist. This could make the urine flow back into his bladder and cause an infection.

Intake and output:

Caregivers may need to know how much liquid your child is getting and urinating. Your child may need to urinate into a container in bed or in the toilet. A caregiver will measure the amount of urine. If your child wears diapers, a caregiver may need to weigh them. Do not throw away diapers or flush urine down the toilet before asking a caregiver.

Intracranial pressure monitor:

An intracranial pressure (ICP) monitor is a small tube that is put through the bones of your child's skull. The tube is connected to a monitor, which shows the pressure inside your child's head. Caregivers use the ICP monitor to check for brain swelling.


  • IV fluids: These fluids include glucose and electrolytes (minerals). These are used to help keep your child hydrated.
  • Diuretics: These help your child's body get rid of extra fluid. This can help decrease swelling in his brain and prevent damage. This medicine makes your child urinate more often.


  • Blood tests: These may be done to check your child's liver function.
  • Blood gases: These tests are also called arterial blood gases (ABGs). Blood is taken from an artery usually in your child's wrist. ABGs may be done if your child has trouble breathing or other problems caused by his illness.
  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your child's brain. Your child may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if he has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
  • Lumbar puncture: This is a procedure to remove a small amount of fluid from your child's spinal cord. A small needle is placed into your child's lower back. Fluid will be removed from around your child's spinal cord and sent to the lab for tests. The test is done to check for increased pressure around your child's brain and spinal cord and for infection.
  • Liver biopsy: This is a procedure where a small piece of your child's liver is removed and tested. Caregivers will numb the skin above your child's liver to decrease pain. A long thin needle will be pushed through his skin and into his liver to collect a piece of tissue.


  • Treatments to prevent bleeding: These include vitamin K, platelets, or plasma. Damage to the liver can prevent your child's blood from clotting like it should. These will help replace clotting factors if his liver cannot make them.
  • Endotracheal tube: This is a soft plastic tube placed in your child's mouth and into the trachea (windpipe). It may be connected to a breathing machine called a ventilator to help your child breathe. The ET tube will be taken out when your child can breathe on his own.
  • Nasogastric tube: This is also called an NG tube. This is a tube that is put in your child's nose and gently inserted until it is in his stomach. It is used to feed your child if he has problems eating through his mouth. Do not let your child pull on the NG tube. Tell a caregiver if the tube comes out of your child's nose.
  • Dialysis: This procedure removes extra water, chemicals, and waste products from your child's blood. The dialysis machine removes wastes by passing your child's blood through a filter. It then returns the blood back to your child. Your child may also be given medicines or have blood taken for tests during dialysis.


Even after being treated for RS, your child may have long-term medical problems. If your child is not treated for RS, his brain, liver, and organ damage will get worse. If your child keeps taking a medicine that contains aspirin, his condition will worsen. This can lead to liver failure and brain damage that may become permanent. RS could cause your child to lose consciousness or be life-threatening.


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.

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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.