Serious risks and complications from cardiac catheterization are rare, but possible risks include the following:
- Pain, discomfort, or bruising where a catheter was inserted
- Injury to the heart, lung, or a blood vessel from a needle or catheter
- Exposure to radiation (x-rays)
- A reaction to the dye used to take pictures of the heart
Cardiac catheterization has several benefits. For example, it can:
- Provide information about which medicine will be best for the child
- Show problems with the heart or blood vessels that need to be fixed with surgery
- Let doctors fix a heart or blood vessel problem without doing surgery. This can help a child recover faster.
Before the procedure, you should:
- Make sure you understand when your child should stop eating and drinking and what medicines they should not take.
- Tell your child’s doctor about any other medical problems they have and what medicines they are taking, including over-the-counter medicines, supplements, inhalers, liquid medicines, and patches.
- Tell the doctor if your child has ever had a bad reaction to any medicines, dyes, or foods.
- Tell the doctor if your child has a runny nose, cough, fever, vomiting, diarrhea or any other sickness that day. You might need to reschedule the procedure for another day.
Before cardiac catheterization begins, a child might have an intravenous [in-truh-VEE-nuh s] or IV line placed so they can get medicine during the procedure. They will also get a sedative (a medicine to help them relax).
The cardiac catheterization procedure takes about 2 to 3 hours. These are the steps:
- Doctors place a breathing tube through the child’s mouth and into their lung so they can breathe safely.
- The child’s skin will be numbed where the catheters will be put in. This could be on the child’s arm, leg, or neck.
- The catheters will be threaded into the heart.
- The doctor will use the catheters to take pictures of the child’s heart, measure blood pressure, or fix a problem.
After the procedure, the catheters are removed from the child’s body. Pressure is applied to stop bleeding, and a bandage is put on. The child will be watched for a while before they can go home.
After the procedure:
- You can take your child’s bandage off the next day.
- Do not let your child put the area where the catheter was inserted under water. Keep your child out of the bathtub, pool, and hot tub for 2 days.
- Have your child rest for 2 days. Do not let them exercise or be active. Short walks are OK.
Call your child’s doctor if you notice any of these problems:
- Bleeding from the catheter site.
- Pain at the catheter site that lasts more than a few days.
- Signs of infection such as a fever, fluid coming from the catheter site, redness or warmth at the site.
Call 911 right away if:
- Your child faints or can’t breathe.
- There is a lot of bleeding from the catheter site.
Cardiac catheterization helps a child’s doctor evaluate the child’s heart and blood vessels. A heart doctor (cardiologist) inserts a long, flexible tube called a catheter into a blood vessel in a child’s leg or neck. Then, the catheter is threaded into the child’s heart.
Doctors use the catheter to measure blood pressure and take pictures of a child’s heart and blood vessels. Some types of heart problems also can be treated with cardiac catheterization.