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Learning About Cardiac Catheterization in Children


What is cardiac catheterization?

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure your doctor uses to see images and get information about your child's heart and blood vessels from the inside. Your doctor can diagnose and sometimes treat heart problems with this procedure.

How is it done?

Your child will get medicine to help your child relax or sleep.

The doctor then puts a thin tube into a blood vessel, typically in your child's groin or neck. This tube is called a catheter. The doctor will move the catheter through the blood vessel to the heart. A dye can be put into the catheter. The doctor can take X-ray pictures of the dye as it moves through your child's heart and blood vessels.

The doctor can also use the catheter to take blood samples and other measurements. The doctor may check how well the heart pumps blood and how well the valves work. Blood pressure in the heart and lungs may be measured.

If the doctor is going to repair a heart problem, special tools are moved through the catheter to the heart. The doctor uses these tools to repair the problem.

What happens after the procedure?

Your child might be able to go home the same day. If the procedure is more complex, your child might stay in the hospital overnight.

After the procedure, pressure will be applied to the area where the catheter was put in the blood vessel. Then the area may be covered with a bandage or a compression device. This will prevent bleeding. Nurses will check the area often. If the catheter was put in your child's groin, your child will need to lie still and keep the leg straight for up to a few hours.

Your child may have a bruise or a small lump where the catheter was put in the blood vessel. This is normal and will go away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

Where can you learn more?

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