Caring for Your Child after Cardiac Surgery
Caring for the Incision and Other Sites
- Keep the incision and the chest tube sites clean and dry.
- Leave Steri-Strips® in place until they peel or fall off on their own in 10-14 days.
- Apply a clean Band-Aid® to the chest tube site and change daily until dry. Then, you may leave it open to the air. If your child has a chest tube stitch, it will be removed at your child’s first office visit.
- Starting the 4th day after surgery, your child may shower with the stream of water to her back. Pat the incision dry before dressing.
- Do not soak incision in the tub or go swimming for 2 weeks after surgery.
- Do not use any creams, lotions, or perfumed soaps near wounds until Steri-Strips® have fallen off.
- Protect the wounds from any direct sunlight until they have faded (at least 6 months). Use a sunscreen and t-shirt when outside.
Activity - The first 6 weeks after surgery
- Your child may be up and about as he is able. Encourage normal play with frequent rest.
- Young children should be lifted in a scooping motion with support for their bottoms. Avoid lifting by the arms or under the armpits. This is mostly for comfort, but also it helps the breast bone stay fixed in place as it heals.
- Your child may return to school or work after your first clinic visit and to daycare in 4 weeks.
- Avoid running, climbing, or overuse of arms and shoulders.
- No bike riding, or wearing a backpack.
- Your child may not take part in physical education or any contact sports.
- Your child may go out for recess upon return to school, but your child should not be running, climbing, or playing on any equipment.
- Your child may not lift greater than 8 pounds (a gallon of milk).
- Do not allow your child to drive a car if he/she drives. As a passenger they should be in the back seat to avoid air bags
- For infants: Breast feeding or formula with goal of __________________
- For children and young adults, restart the regular diet. Any other instructions will be given to you before discharge.
Medicines: Please see your discharge medication sheet. No vaccines for 4 weeks after surgery.
When to Call the Doctor
Call Dr. Anagnostopoulos at (608) 263-0439 if your child has
- Any questions about the wound
- Increased swelling around the wound
- Redness around the wound
- Drainage from the wound
- Fever over 101° F
- Takes less feedings
- Is irritable or more tired than usual
- Has breathing problems
- Changes in skin color (gray, blue)
- Starts to sweat a lot
- Nausea, vomiting, or chest pain with breathing. This may be associated with your child’s surgery and needs immediate follow up. This may occur in the first few days up to six weeks after surgery..
After hours, nights, weekends, and holidays, please call (608) 262-0486. If you live out of the area, call 1-800-323-8942. This will give you the paging operator. Ask for the pediatric cardiac surgeon or pediatric cardiologist on call. Give your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #5643.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/29/2013
Copyright © 08/29/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5460
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