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Your child had a procedure to place a tunnelled catheter. The catheter is a soft, flexible tube that runs under your child's skin, usually from a vein in the chest or neck to a large vein near the heart. Your child may have it for weeks, months, or longer.
Your child will now be able to get medicine, blood, nutrients, or other fluids with more comfort. Your child will not be poked with a needle every time.
You can use your child's catheter right away. You will be shown how to use it and how to care for it.
Your child's doctor will tell you how to care for the incision at the insertion site. (It's usually on your child's neck.) It may have stitches, strips of tape, or a gauze dressing. Your doctor will tell you when the stitches will be removed. The strips of tape will fall off in 3 to 5 days. If there is a gauze dressing, it can be removed after 2 days.
Your child's doctor will tell you how to care for the incision on your child's chest where the catheter is. It will likely have a clear or gauze dressing on it. A clear dressing usually needs to be changed about 2 days after the procedure and then once a week. It may need to be done sooner if you can't see the insertion site, if the dressing becomes soiled, or if the dressing falls off. A gauze dressing needs to be changed 2 or 3 times a week. Also, change the dressing right away if it becomes wet, loose, or dirty.
Under the skin, there may be a small ring, or cuff, on the catheter. This helps hold the catheter in place.
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.
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.
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
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Adaptation Date: 2/28/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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