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After Heart Valve Surgery (Pediatric)

A doctor did surgery to fix or replace one 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 reduce or stop the problems your child was having. Here’s what you need to know after the 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, don't let your child do activities that could strain the breastbone. This includes sports.

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

  • Ask the 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.

Talk with your child's doctor about what problems to look for and when to call them. Know what number to call with any questions or problems, including after office hours, on weekends, and on holidays.

Other home care

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

  • Be careful that water is not 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. Report weight gain to the doctor.

  • Give your child all prescribed medicines exactly as directed.

  • Keep your child away from people who are sick. This is especially important in the first week. Make sure your child uses good handwashing methods. This is to prevent the spread of infection. 

  • Put off any routine dental appointments for your child for some time. Talk with your child's doctor about how long. Ask the doctor if your child needs antibiotics before dental procedures. 

  • Your child's appetite may be poor for a while. Let your child eat what he or she wants. But limit the amount of salt. Follow your doctor's instructions on how much fluid your child should have.

When to call your child's healthcare provider

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

  • New or different chest pain or shortness of breath

  • Fever above 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Signs of infection such as redness, swelling, drainage, bad odor, or warmth at the incision site.

  • Constant vomiting

  • Belly pain

  • Bleeding

  • Fainting

  • New or increased fluid buildup. This might be swollen hands, ankles, or feet, or a puffy face.

  • Pain that doesn't get better after taking medicine

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

  • Fast or irregular pulse

  • Pain at the incision site that doesn't get better after taking medicine

  • Breastbone popping or clicking 

  • Your child doesn't seem to be getting better

Online Medical Reviewer: Jonas DeMuro MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Lu Cunningham RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Pat F Bass MD MPH
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2016
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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