Cardiac Catheterization for ASD or PDA in Children: What to Expect at Home

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Your Child's Recovery

The heart

Your child had a procedure to fix either an atrial septal defect (ASD) or patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). The doctor did this by putting a thin tube called a catheter into the heart through a blood vessel in the groin.

Your child may have a bruise or a small lump where the catheter was put in (the catheter site). The area may feel sore for a day or two after the procedure. Your child may need more sleep than usual for a few days.

Most children are healthy and live normal lives after treatment for PDA or ASD. Your child will need regular checkups.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for your child to recover. But each child recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to help your child get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for your child at home?

Activity

  • Allow your child to slowly become more active. Have him or her rest as much as needed. Make sure your child gets enough sleep at night.
  • Your child should not ride a bike, play running games or contact sports, or take part in gym class until your doctor says it is okay. It is okay for your child to walk and play with other children or play with toys.
  • Until your doctor says it is okay, your child should not do activities that could cause a blow to the chest, such as wrestling or playing catch with a ball.
  • Until the doctor says it is okay, your child should avoid lifting anything that would make him or her strain. This may include heavy milk containers, a heavy backpack, or a medium-sized pet.
  • Your child can shower 1 to 2 days after the procedure. Avoid soaking the catheter site in water until the area is healed. This includes keeping your child out of bathtubs and swimming pools.
  • Your doctor will tell you when your child can go back to school or daycare. Your child will probably have to spend at least 1 day at home.
  • For about 1 week, keep your child away from large crowds and people that you know have a cold or the flu. This lowers your child's chance of getting an infection.

Diet

  • Your child can eat his or her normal diet. If your child's stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Have your child drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
  • You may notice a change in your child's bowel habits right after the procedure. This is common. If your child has not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, call your doctor or nurse call line.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when your child can restart his or her medicines. The doctor will also give you instructions about your child taking any new medicines.
  • Have your child take pain medicine exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it to your child as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If you think the pain medicine is making your child sick to his or her stomach:
    • Have your child take the medicine after meals (unless the doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your child's doctor for a different pain medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, be sure your child takes them as directed. Your child should not stop taking them just because he or she feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • If your child takes a blood thinner, be sure to get instructions about how to take this medicine safely. Blood thinners can cause serious bleeding problems.
  • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.

Care of the catheter site

  • For the first day or for as long as your doctor recommends, keep a bandage over the spot where the catheter was put in.
  • You can put ice or a cold pack on the catheter site for 10 to 20 minutes at a time to help with soreness or swelling. Do this every few hours. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.

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 call line 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.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child has severe trouble breathing. Symptoms may include:
    • Using the belly muscles to breathe.
    • The chest sinking in or the nostrils flaring when your child struggles to breathe.
  • Your child has sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or coughs up blood.
  • Your child is bleeding a lot from the catheter site.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or increased shortness of breath.
  • Your child is dizzy or light-headed.
  • Your child has severe pain in his or her groin or leg where the catheter was put in, or the area becomes cold, pale, blue, tingly, or numb.
  • Your child's groin is very swollen and there is a lump that is getting bigger under your child's skin at the catheter site.
  • Your child is sick to his or her stomach or cannot keep fluids down.
  • Your child has pain that does not go away after you give him or her pain medicine.
  • Your child has a fever over 38°C that will not come down, even if he or she drinks fluids or takes medicine.
  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the catheter site.
    • Pus draining from the site.
    • A fever.
  • Your child has increased swelling in his or her legs, ankles, or feet.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if your child has any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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