Cardiac Catheterization for Valve Stenosis: Before Your Child's Procedure

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What is cardiac catheterization?

Heart valves

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure that can be used to fix some congenital heart problems. These problems include the narrowing (stenosis) of a heart valve. A narrowed valve affects how well blood flows through the heart or blood vessels.

A congenital heart problem is one your child is born with.

In cardiac catheterization, your doctor fixes your child's heart using a thin tube called a catheter. This type of procedure does not require the doctor to make a cut (incision) in your child's chest.

The doctor will put the catheter into a blood vessel, usually in your child's groin. The doctor will move the catheter through the blood vessel into the heart to reach the heart valve. The catheter is used to move a tiny balloon to the heart valve. The doctor then inflates the balloon to widen the valve. The balloon separates and stretches the valve opening. This allows blood to flow more easily through the heart.

Your child may be able to go home the same day. Your child will continue to see the doctor to be sure the valve is working right.

Having a child with a heart problem can be scary. You may feel overwhelmed. Learning as much as you can about your child's treatment can help you feel better. You may also want to talk with other parents who have a child with similar problems.

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 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.

What happens before the procedure?

Having a procedure can be stressful both for your child and for you. This information will help you understand what you can expect and how to safely prepare for the procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Bring a list of questions to ask your child's doctors. It is important that you understand what procedure is planned, the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • A simple explanation should be given to your child before the procedure. Depending on your child, this should be done a day or two before the procedure for children age 5 years and younger, and up to a week before the procedure for older children.
  • Tell your child's doctors ALL the medicines, vitamins, and natural health products your child is taking. Keep a list of these with you, and bring this with you to your child's appointments. You will be told which medicines to give your child before the procedure.
  • Tell your doctor or nurse about any allergies your child has to medicines or latex.
  • Some medicines, such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and certain vitamins or natural health products can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia. You may be asked to stop these medicines before the procedure.
  • Before the procedure, you will speak with a member of the anesthesia team to discuss anesthetic options, including the risks, benefits, and alternatives to each. This may be on the phone, or in person.
  • Ask if a special tour of the operating area and hospital is available.

Taking care of your child before the procedure

  • Build healthy habits into your child's life.
    • Help your child to stay as active as possible.
    • Teach about and support a healthy diet.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when your child should stop eating and drinking, or the procedure may be cancelled. If the doctor has instructed you to have your child take his or her medicines on the day of the procedure, please have your child take the medicine using only a sip of water.
  • See that your child has bathed. Do not apply lotions or deodorant.
  • Your child may brush his or her teeth. Remind your child not to swallow any toothpaste or water.
  • Be sure your child has something that reminds him or her of home. A special stuffed animal, toy, or blanket may be comforting. For an older child, it might be a book or music. Leave any valuable items at home.

At the hospital or procedure centre

  • A parent or legal guardian must accompany your child.
  • Your child will be kept comfortable and safe by an anesthesia provider. Your child will be asleep during the procedure.
  • Before your child's procedure, the doctors or nurses will ask you to repeat your child's full name and what procedure he or she is having.
  • A small intravenous (IV) tube is usually placed in a vein, to give fluids and medicines. This tube may be placed in the pre-op area or in the operating room after your child is asleep. Because of the medicines given, your child may not remember much about the operating room.
  • The procedure will take at least 1 hour. In some cases, it may take several hours.
  • After the procedure, your child will be taken to the recovery room. Or your child may go directly to his or her hospital room after the procedure.
  • Your child will need to lie still for several hours after the procedure to prevent bleeding. He or she may have a bruise or a small lump where the catheter was put in the groin (the catheter site). Nurses will check the area often.
  • Before your child wakes up, the doctor will probably talk to you about the procedure. When your child wakes up in the recovery room, the nurse will check his or her vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate, and breathing) and make sure that your child is comfortable. You will be allowed to see your child as soon as he or she wakes up.

Going home

  • Expect your child to be sleepy. Encourage extra rest the first day. Most children become more active on the day following the procedure.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about when your child can do intense exercise, such as sports, running, or physical education.
  • When you leave the hospital, you will get more information about how to take care of your child at home.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare your child for the procedure.
  • Your child becomes ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about your child having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

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Current as of: January 27, 2016