Home Care after Heart Surgery
CARE OF INCISION:
- Leave incisions open to air. No Band-Aids or dressings are needed.
- A small amount of clear yellow or dark bloody drainage from any of the incisions is normal. A Band-Aide or light dressing may be used for this.
- Until the stitches are out, the incision should be washed daily with soap and water and gently patted dry. A tub bath or shower can be taken one week after surgery or after the stitches are out.
- Steri-strips or special tapes placed over the incision should be left alone until they fall off.
- If stitches are still in place where the chest tubes were, they should be removed by your local doctor or home care nurse 5 days after the tubes were taken out.
- Allow your child to play at his or her own pace. Children are good at limiting their own activity.
- Restrictions to follow:
- For 2 weeks after surgery:
- Lift infants and toddlers under their bottom while supporting their back. Do not lift them under their arms.
- For 2 weeks after discharge:
- Keep your child home from school, day care (with the exception of a small, private day care) and other crowded areas such as stores and church.
- If patient is of driving age, he/she should not drive.
- For 6 weeks after discharge:
- No physical activity such as gym, contact sports, sledding, bike riding, roller blading or skiing.
- No working.
- No lifting anything over 5 pounds.
There can be individual variations to these restrictions. Talk with your cardiologist about your child’s individual needs.
WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR:
- Temperature over 101.5° (F)
- Increased fatigue/tiredness
- New onset of dry cough
- Change in appearance of incision
- Cloudy yellow drainage
- Increased redness or swelling
- Separation of incision
- Increased pain
Most children can begin or continue their routine immunizations (baby shots) about 4-6 weeks after their surgery. Talk with your family doctor about this.
WHEN TO VISIT YOUR DOCTOR AFTER HEART SURGERY:
- Newborns: Within one week after discharge
- All other children: Contact your family doctor to determine when
your child should be seen.
Cardiovascular Surgery Clinic (If being followed at Michigan Congenital Heart Center):
- 2 weeks after discharge with the Nurse Practitioner.
- Arrive 45 minutes early for a chest x-ray.
- Take x-ray with you to the clinic.
Pediatric Cardiology Clinic (If being followed at Michigan Congenital Heart Center):
Families who live a long distance from Ann Arbor will be asked to make their own 2 week follow-up appointment with their referring cardiologist.
4/2006: Information reviewed and approved by Laura Bell, RN, MSN, CPNP Pediatric Cardiac Surgery and Lynda Dettling RN, BSN.
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