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Cardiac catheterisation fact sheet

Cardiac catheterisation

Cardiac catheterisation is a way of finding out detailed information about your child’s heart and heart blood vessels.

The procedure can provide information about the:

  • structure of the heart and vessels
  • pressure and narrowing in the chamber and blood vessels
  • amount of oxygen in the chambers and vessels
  • amount of blood pumped in the body
  • the rhythm of the heartbeat.

What does the procedure involve?

The process involves cardiac catheterisation performed under general anaesthetic in the cardiac catheter laboratory. The catheter involves a general anaesthetic under sterile conditions and it is best that your child is well. If your child is unwell in the weeks prior to their booked catheter, please ring the cardiac care coordinator to notify them. If it is deemed that your child is too unwell, they will be rescheduled.

The procedure involves a flexible hollow tube (the catheter) being placed in a large artery or vein, usually in the groin, and fed up to and through the heart. The position of the catheter is followed on an X-ray screen. Internal pressures can be measured, blood samples taken, devices inserted, and X-ray dye can be injected to show the pattern of blood flow.

At the end of the procedure the catheter is removed and a clear dressing and steristrips are applied to the groin incision.

How cardiac catheterisation can help

Some cardiac conditions can be corrected by cardiac catheterisation. These are interventional catheters and can assist with:

  • ASDs (atrial septal defect) closed with a device
  • PDAs (patent ductus arteriosus) closed with a coil or device
  • balloon dilatations, which can be performed on narrow valves and blood vessels.

After the procedure

Your child may be tired after the procedure so we aim to provide a quiet environment until the anaesthetic wears off. He or she will be monitored frequently until awake, alert and observations are satisfactory. Your child’s doctor will speak with you following the procedure and explain the findings and plan of care.

All children return from the procedure with an IV cannula which may be used to give intravenous fluids, or medication if your child is vomiting for example or has pain. It may also be used to give them IV antibiotics.

Your child must rest in bed for four to six hours after the procedure. Once fully awake they can resume their normal diet. The wound site is checked often and the clear plastic dressing left intact for the following two days.

Going home

Most children are discharged either the day of, or the morning after, the procedure. They must be awake, alert and mobile, and must have passed urine, tolerated food and fluids, and their observations must be satisfactory. The attending doctor will speak with you prior to your child’s discharge and follow-up appointments will be organised. Our nursing staff will reinforce discharge information about wound care and safety. If you have any questions or concerns please call the numbers provided.

If your child has had an interventional catheterisation, they will have a chest X-ray and echocardiogram the morning after the procedure and may require medication (such as Aspirin) for six months after the procedure.


Your child should continue to take all medication as prescribed by your doctor unless told otherwise. They may have been commenced on new medications after the procedure. They will be seen by the ward pharmacist and will be given written information about the medication before being discharged.

Wound care

Withhold deep baths and swimming for two days after discharge, but shower your child as normal. If you observe swelling and bruising greater than 5 cm at the groin site, attend you GP or health facility. If sudden bleeding occurs, apply pressure for 10 minutes and call an ambulance or your doctor for further instructions.

Contact us

Queensland Paediatric Cardiac Service
Queensland Children’s Hospital
501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane
t: 07 3068 1765 (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: FS077. 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.