After your child has had cardiac catheterisation

This page explains how your child might feel after cardiac catheterisation at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and what care they will need at home.

Find out more about cardiac catheterisation in our procedures and treatments information for families.

Care of the wound

The wound is a small puncture site that does not require stitches. Your child will be discharged with a clear dressing over the puncture site. You should leave this in place until the following day when it can easily be removed in the bath or shower.

Bleeding from the puncture site after discharge is extremely rare. In the unlikely event that there is bleeding, apply pressure to the area for five to 10 minutes with a clean towel or handkerchief. If bleeding occurs, telephone the ward for advice.

Pain relief

It is quite normal for your child to feel some discomfort for the first 48 hours after the catheterisation. Usually paracetamol will be enough to relieve any pain but if your child needs stronger medication, we will give you some before you go home. The area around the puncture site may feel uncomfortable but it will help to encourage your child to return to normal activity.

If, when you get home, you feel that your child needs more powerful pain relief, you should call your family doctor (GP). Keep the discharge letter from GOSH by the telephone in case your family doctor needs some details about the catheterisation. You can also telephone the ward for over-the-telephone advice.

Always follow the instructions on the pain relief bottle or packet and never give your child more than the recommended dose.

Circulation problems

Problems with warmth and colour of the limb after discharge are extremely rare. In the unlikely event that the limb feels cool or appears mottled or dusky in appearance, please ring the numbers below so that we can advise you. 

In an emergency or if you are very concerned, please take your child to your local accident and emergency department.

Return to normal activities

Most children require two to three days’ rest before going back to nursery, school or college. While they are resting, it is important that they keep moving as well as eating and drinking as usual.

Interventional catheterisation

If your child has had an interventional catheter, they will need a repeat Echocardiogram (Echo) before being discharged home. If your child has had a device closure of an atrial septal defect (ASD), we will give you a prescription for aspirin. This will prevent a clot forming around the device. Your child should continue to take aspirin as prescribed until their follow up appointment and possibly for longer. Please remember to order a repeat prescription from your GP in plenty of time.

It is essential that your child has good daily oral hygiene and six-monthly check ups with the dentist to prevent any infections which could affect the heart.

Compiled by:
Walrus Ward (Cardiac Day Care) in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group
Last review date:
January 2015