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Caring for your child after cardiac catheterisation fact sheet

Caring for your child at home after cardiac catheterisation

After you have been discharged from hospital, it is important to follow these observation and care guidelines. Please contact the catheter or cardiac coordinator if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s care.

Signs of bleeding or infection

Regularly check your child for any of the following:

  • Bleeding directly from the site and/or oozing out from under the dressing
  • Excessive bruising at the insertion site (a small amount of bruising is normal)
  • Swelling/haematoma if the site becomes suddenly more swollen with a hard lump (approx. 5cm in diameter) under the skin, there may be bleeding into the tissues around the puncture site
  • Redness and/or heat at the insertion site (this can indicate infection)
  • Temperature over 37.5 C.

Please note that if your child is taking/commencing blood thinning medication bruising around the site maybe more pronounced.

If you do observe bleeding from the insertion site, a large haematoma develops or there is new/increased swelling, take the following steps:

  1. Lie your child flat
  2. Apply pressure to groin for at least 10 minutes. DO NOT remove pressure to check site
  3. If swelling/bleeding/oozing persists after 10 minutes, call 000 and ask for an ambulance and keep pressure applied until the ambulance arrives
  4. If the blood loss is large, ring 000 for ambulance
  5. Keep pressure applied until the ambulance arrives.

Pain relief

It is not unusual for your child to experience some mild pain after the procedure. This should settle down over a few hours/days. Give your child Panadol as directed when they are discharged from hospital. If the pain is not relieved by Panadol call the catheter coordinator on 07 3068 1765 or your cardiac coordinator.

How can I reduce the risk of bleeding and bruising?

Encourage your child to:

  • Avoid knocking or bumping the site
  • Avoid contact and impact sport/activities. This may be requested for up to and beyond a month. The catheter team will give you direct instructions after the catheter regarding the limitations.
  • Avoid vigorous physical activity such as running and jumping
  • Watch TV/DVDs and/or play computer games, read for a couple of days
  • Leave the dressing on for 48 hours
  • Keep the area dry for 48 hours – eg, do not swim or take a bath
  • Do not apply creams/lotions/oils to the incision

What do I do if my child’s leg becomes swollen or if they say they feel funny?

  • Ask your child to move their leg and wiggle their toes
  • Ask your child to describe the sensation that they are experiencing
  • Check that your child’s feet and toes are warm and pink
  • Compare the size of the affected limb to the other side
  • Your child should be reviewed by a doctor immediately if they report:
    – differing sensation to the limb
    – has difficulty moving their legs
    – toes are cold and pale/dusky.

My child seems very tired – should I be worried?

It is normal for a child recovering from an anaesthetic and a medical procedure to feel tired and lack energy for seven to 10 days after their procedure.

Remember, they have:

  • been exposed to an anaesthetic
  • lost some blood
  • fasted
  • been under stress during the lead up to the procedure
  • travelled a distance to be here
  • been exposed to the hospital environment.

If you are unsure of your child’s behaviour, attend your local health care provider or ring your Catheter Coordinator 07 3068 1765.

What is the medical follow-up after my child has been discharged?

After discharge, a follow-up appointment will be required either at the Queensland Children’s Hospital or at your regional hospital. A member of the cardiology team will follow-up with a phone call to ensure you are aware your child’s continuing care plan.

What if I am unsure of my child’s condition?

If you have any questions or are unsure about your child’s condition ring the catheter coordinator, your cardiac care coordinator or visit your GP. Remember coordinator hours are during business hours.

What if my child had an interventional catheter procedure?

If you child has had an interventional catheter procedure, they may require continued medication after discharge to assist with keeping the blood thin. Our staff will provide you with additional information and education about this before your child’s discharge to help you care for them at home safely.

Contact us

Queensland Paediatric Cardiac Service
Queensland Children’s Hospital
501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane
t: 07 3068 2790 (3d – Cardiology Clinic)
t: 07 3068 1111 (Switch)

In an emergency, always call 000.

If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Resource No: FS105. Developed by Anaesthetics Department. Updated: December 2018. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.