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A child may need a cardiac catheterization to diagnose a heart problem (diagnostic cardiac catheterization). Or a child may need a catheterization to fix a problem (interventional cardiac catheterization). The problem is often one that he or she was born with (congenital heart defect). A catheterization may also be done for both reasons.
Diagnostic catheterization is used less often now. Other tests such as echocardiography, MRI, and CT scans are used instead. A diagnostic catheterization may be done to:
Interventional catheterization has replaced surgery for some procedures. An interventional catheterization may be done to:
Cardiac catheterizations in children are usually safe. But there are some risks, including:
How you get your child ready depends on his or her age. If your child is old enough, explain what will happen in a way that he or she will understand. You might ask the doctor or nurse or a child-life specialist to explain the procedure to your child. Before your child's catheterization, you should:
Your child's doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure with you. You will also need to give written permission (informed consent) to do the procedure.
The procedure is done in a cardiac catheterization lab in a hospital. Your child's doctor and a specially trained staff of nurses and technicians will be there during the procedure.
Your child is either given medicine to help him or her relax (sedation) or general anesthesia so he or she is asleep during the procedure. Once in the cath lab, he or she will lie on a small table with a lot of equipment nearby. In general, here is what will happen:
For diagnostic catheterization, the doctor may then:
If repairs are needed, the doctor may:
When the catheterization is done, the doctor will remove the catheter. Pressure will be applied to prevent bleeding. The healthcare team will put a bandage on the site where the catheter was put in.
Your child will be taken to a room. The healthcare staff will watch your child closely for several hours. Some children stay in the hospital for a day or more. How long it takes your child to wake up after the procedure will depend on the medicines used. If blood vessels in the leg were used, your child will need to stay in bed and keep the leg straight for a few hours after the procedure. This makes the insertion site less likely to bleed. The site may be bruised and uncomfortable for a few days.
The doctor will decide when your child is ready to go home. You will be given written instructions on:
Depending on the results of the cardiac catheterization, your child may need more tests or procedures.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure for your child make sure you know:
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