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After Heart Valve Surgery (Pediatric)

A doctor performed surgery to repair or replace 1 or more of your child’s heart valves. The heart valves make sure that blood flows through the heart the right way. Your child had the surgery to improve this blood flow. The surgery should decrease or stop the problems your child was having. Here’s what you need to know following surgery.

Activity

  • Ask the doctor what your child can and can’t do as he or she recovers. Your child will have good and bad days. This is normal.

  • Don’t let your child strain to lift any heavy objects until approved by the doctor.

  • While your child is healing, stay nearby during showers or other activities, just in case he or she needs help.

  • Until the doctor says it’s OK, your child should not do activities that could strain the breastbone.

  • Ask your doctor when your child can return to school.

  • Ask your doctor when your child can start a walking program or return to regular play.

    • Begin with a short playtime (about 5 minutes). Go a little longer each day.

    • Choose a safe place with a level surface.

    • Arrange for your child to play with someone. It’s more fun and helps your child forget about pain.

Other Home Care

  • Clean your child’s incision every day with soap and water. Gently pat dry the incision area. Don’t use any powders, lotions, or oils on the incision until it is well healed. This may take several weeks.

  • Be cautious of water that is too hot when your child is showering or bathing — hot water can affect circulation and cause dizziness. 

  • Weigh your child every day, at the same time of day, and in the same kind of clothes.

  • Give your child all prescribed medications exactly as directed.

  • In the first week, avoid sick contacts and make sure to use good hand-washing to avoid spread of infection. 

  • Delay routine dental appointments for some time. Talk with your doctor about how long. Ask your cardiologist if you need antibiotics before dental procedures. 

 

When to Call Your Child's Doctor

Call your child’s doctor right away if your child has any of the following:

  • New or different chest pain or shortness of breath

  • Fever above 100°F (37.7°C) or other signs of infection (redness, swelling, drainage, or warmth at the incision site)

  • Persistent vomiting

  • Bleeding

  • Fainting

  • New or increased fluid building up (swollen hands, ankles, or feet, or puffy face)

  • Pain that is not relieved with medication

  • Changes in the location, type, or level of pain

  • Fast or irregular pulse

  • Pain at the incision site(s) that is not relieved by medication

  • Breastbone popping or clicking 

  • Does not seem to be getting better. 

 

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