Catheter Ablation in Children: What to Expect at Home

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Your Child's Recovery

Your child had a catheter ablation to try to correct a problem with their heartbeat (heart rhythm).

Your child may have a bruise or a small lump where the catheters were put in. The area may feel sore for a few days after the procedure. Your child may need more sleep than usual for a few days.

At home, your child should not do any hard exercise until your doctor says it is okay. Your doctor will tell you when your child can go back to school or day care.

This procedure can be stressful for you and your child. Your child's recovery will depend on why the procedure was needed.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for your child to recover. But each child recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to help your child get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for your child at home?


  • Allow your child to slowly become more active. Have your child rest as much as needed. Make sure your child gets enough sleep at night.
  • Your child should not ride a bike, play running games or contact sports, or take part in gym class until your doctor says it is okay. It is okay for your child to walk and play with other children or play with toys.
  • Until the doctor says it is okay, your child should avoid lifting anything that would make your child strain. This may include heavy milk containers, a heavy backpack, or a medium-sized pet.
  • Your doctor will tell you when your child can go back to school or day care. Your child will probably have to spend at least 1 day at home.
  • For about 1 week, keep your child away from large crowds and people that you know have a cold or the flu. This lowers your child's chance of getting an infection.


  • Your child can eat a normal diet. If your child's stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Have your child drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
  • You may notice a change in your child's bowel habits right after the procedure. This is common. If your child has not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, call your doctor.


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when your child can restart any medicines. The doctor will also give you instructions about your child taking any new medicines.
  • Have your child take pain medicine exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it to your child as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If you think the pain medicine is making your child sick to the stomach:
    • Have your child take the medicine after meals (unless the doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your child's doctor for a different pain medicine.

Care of the catheter site

  • For the first day or for as long as your doctor recommends, keep a bandage over the spot where the catheter was put in.
  • You can put ice or a cold pack on the catheter site for 10 to 20 minutes at a time to help with soreness or swelling. Do this every few hours. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • Your child can shower 1 to 2 days after the procedure. Avoid soaking the catheter site in water until the area is healed. This includes keeping your child out of bathtubs and swimming pools.
  • Watch for bleeding from the site. A small amount of blood on the bandage can be normal.
  • If your child is bleeding, have your child lie down and press on the area for 15 minutes to try to make it stop. If the bleeding does not stop, call your child's doctor or seek immediate medical care.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child has trouble breathing.
  • Your child is bleeding a lot from the catheter site.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child is dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Your child has severe pain in the groin or leg where the catheter was put in, or the area becomes cold, pale, blue, tingly, or numb.
  • Your child's groin is very swollen and there is a lump that is getting bigger under your child's skin at the catheter site.
  • Your child is sick to the stomach or cannot keep fluids down.
  • Your child has pain that does not get better after your child takes pain medicine.
  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if your child has any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.