After Heart Valve Surgery (Pediatric)

A doctor did surgery to repair 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 decrease or stop the problems your child was having. Here’s what you need to know following surgery.


  • 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, antibiotic creams, 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 medicines exactly as directed.

  • In the first week, keep your child away from people who are sick. Make sure to use good handwashing 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. 

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


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. These include redness, swelling, drainage, or warmth at the incision site.

  • Persistent vomiting

  • Abdominal pain

  • Bleeding

  • Fainting

  • New or increased fluid building up. 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 or sites that doesn't get better after taking medicine

  • Breastbone popping or clicking 

  • Your child doesn't seem to be getting better