Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Monroe Carell Jr.
Children's Hospital
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Nashville, TN 37232

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Cardiac Catheterization


Cardiac catheterization is a procedure in which a long, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel, usually in the leg, then guided into the heart. Catheterization helps doctors pinpoint problems with your child's heart and blood vessels. Catheterization, sometimes called a cath, may also be used to treat some conditions.

Catheterization is often successful in kids and teens, with a low risk of complications. Children are usually released from the hospital on the same day and resume regular activities within a week.

Preparing for cardiac catheterization

You and your child will meet with the pediatric cardiologist who will complete the catheterization. This appointment is your opportunity to learn about the procedure and ask questions.

The doctor will ask questions about your child's general health, activity level, and current medications. The doctor will listen to your child's heart and lungs and feel pulses in his or her legs. Feeding and medication instructions for the catheterization will be reviewed at the appointment. Other testing, such as EKG, echocardiogram, and X-rays may be performed at that time. A small sample of blood will also be necessary.

A Child Life Specialist is available to meet with your child during the appointment to explain catheterization. Your child can see some of the medical equipment that may be used during the procedure. For young children, the child life specialist will explain that the tests causes very little pain because doctors use medicine to help children relax or even sleep.

If your child develops some type of illness (fever, ear infection, cough/congestion, rash in the groin area, etc.) within the week before the catheterization, the procedure may be postponed until your child is well.

You will be instructed where and when to arrive on the day of the catheterization. Family and friends may come with you to the waiting area. Due to space limitations, only you and one other family member may be with your child in the holding area.

Your child will be taken from the holding area directly to the catheterization lab by a member of the staff. The nurses in the catheterization lab will call you about every 30 to 45 minutes to keep you updated about your child's progress. Once the catheterization is finished, your child will be taken to the recovery room and will stay there until discharged or transferred to a hospital room. You and one other family member can stay with your child in the recovery area.

Read a detailed explanation of catheterization in children

Last Edited: June 8, 2016
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