Tests and Procedures

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There are a lot of different tests and treatments that our doctors perform to try and help you get better as soon as possible. Below we’ve made a list of the tests and treatments they do most frequently so that you can get an idea of what to expect.

Depending on your age, you may be given a special medicine to help you relax or sleep before any test or treatment you have while staying with us on the Cardiac Ward. To find out more about this special medication visit our PREPARING FOR AN OPERATION section.

BLOOD TESTS

A blood test is when a nurse or doctor takes a small amount of your blood with a needle. 

They will clean a small area where they plan to take the blood from and this will usually be in the inside fold of your arm, on your wrist, or on the back of your hand.

It won’t hurt much. You will probably just feel a small pinch and sometimes you may be given a special cream to numb the area first.

It only takes a minute and then your nurse or doctor will pop a bit of cotton wool on the area. You’ll be asked to press it down because this will stop any bruises from forming.

Finally, when you’re all done, your nurse or doctor will give you a plaster and they’ll send your blood off to the laboratory to be examined.

If you feel a little dizzy or lightheaded during or after your blood test don’t forget to tell your nurse or doctor.

BLOOD PRESSURE TESTS

A blood pressure test is when a nurse or doctor puts a cuff or strap around your arm. The cuff will then begin to fill with air.

Once there is enough air in the cuff a small machine will show your nurse or doctor important information about your heartbeat and its rhythm.

When they have collected the information, your nurse or doctor will then remove the cuff and you’ll be finished. This test is very quick and completely painless.

 

X-RAY

An x-ray is when a doctor takes an image, like a black and white photo, of your chest.

They’ll use a machine that works quite like a camera. Because an x-ray is just a big machine for taking photos, it won’t hurt at all!

A nurse or doctor will first prepare you for an x-ray by asking you to change into a hospital gown. Then they’ll bring you into a special room where they take x-ray images.

You will be asked to lie down comfortably on a bed. Then you’ll be asked to lie very still while your image is being taken.

Don’t worry if you are a little nervous because your parent(s) will be with you all of the time.

X-ray images are taken very quickly so you’ll be out of there in no time at all.

ELECTROCARDIOGRAM

An electrocardiogram is when a doctor puts little rubber discs on your chest. These discs are hooked up to a machine that will print out a graph of information about your heart such as the rate of your heartbeat.

A nurse or doctor will first prepare you for an electrocardiogram by asking you to change into a hospital gown. Then they’ll bring you into a special room where they perform electrocardiograms.

An electrocardiogram won’t hurt at all. It’s just like having a few round plasters spread out over your chest, and maybe your shoulders, arms and legs. All you have to do is relax and lie still for a few minutes. An electrocardiogram only takes a few minutes.

Don’t worry if you are a little nervous because your parent(s) will be allowed to stay with you all of the time.

When you’re finished, the doctor will just have to remove the discs which might feel a little bit like taking off plasters.

Depending on your condition, you may be given a small portable electrocardiogram machine to take home and wear for a few days or weeks. It is only the size of a large smartphone or Nintendo DS so it shouldn’t get in the way of your normal activities.

ECHOCARDIOGRAM

An echocardiogram is when a doctor uses a small handheld machine called a transducer that uses sound waves to create and image of your heart.

A nurse or doctor will first prepare you for an echocardiogram by asking you to change into a hospital gown. Then they’ll bring you into a special room where they perform echocardiograms.

You’ll be asked to lie down on a bed and turn on your side. An echocardiogram won’t hurt at all. The doctor or nurse will first put some warm gel on your chest, neck, and tummy areas. This special gel helps the echocardiogram machine to give a clearer picture of your heart.

Your doctor will then use the transducer which they will rub over certain areas of your chest, neck, and tummy. If your doctor needs to have a closer look in some areas you might feel a little pressure because sometimes the doctor has to gently push down to make sure he gets the best image possible.

While the doctor is using the transducer, an image of your heart will begin to form on a small TV screen beside your bed. You’ll see flashes of red and blue. The red colour shows the blood that is flowing towards the transducer and the blue colour shows the blood that is flowing away from the transducer.

Don’t worry if you are a little nervous because your parent(s) will be allowed to stay with you all of the time.

When you’re finished the doctor will help you wipe off all the gel and you will be able to go back to whatever you were doing beforehand.

MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (MRI Scan)

An MRI scan is when a doctor takes a photo or image of your chest using a huge machine that works quite like a camera. Because an MRI scan is just a big machine for taking photos, it won’t hurt at all!

A nurse or doctor will first prepare you for an MRI scan by asking you to change into a hospital gown. Then they’ll bring you into a special room where they perform MRI scans.

You may be given a special medicine to help you relax in case you’re feeling a little nervous.

You will be asked to lie down comfortably on a bed that slides slowly through a big circular chamber where the camera is located. Then you’ll be asked to lie very still while your image is being taken. Don’t worry the chamber doesn’t ever close and your parent(s) will be with you all of the time.

A nurse or doctor will chat to you and keep you company while your are having your image taken. There may even be some music playing keep you occupied.

The MRI scanning machine can be a bit noisy, but that’s just because it is going to take amazing 2D or 3D images of your organs, tissue, and bones.

These special images are very helpful to your doctor because they give really clear pictures of what’s going on inside your heart.

CARDIAC CATHETERISATION

A cardiac catheterisation is when a doctor puts a tiny tube into one of your heart’s chambers or vessels. The tube is very tiny and very bendy so that it can move easily in and through your heart.

A nurse or doctor will first prepare you for a cardiac catheterisation by asking you to change into a hospital gown. Then they’ll bring you into a special room where they perform cardiac catheterisations. 

You may then be put on a drip and you’ll probably have some monitoring equipment attached to you. The monitoring equipment helps your doctor see that everything is ok during your operation.

You may be given either:

A general anaesthetic – puts you to sleep for the operation.

A local anaesthetic – lets you stay awake but numbs everything so you won’t feel a thing.

If you are given a general anaesthetic you’ll be fast asleep for your cardiac catheterisation so you won’t feel a thing.

If you are having a local anaesthetic, you might feel a sting when the needle is inserted to give you your anaesthetic but it won’t last long. During your operation, you won’t feel pain but you may feel a little pressure where the doctor is moving the catheter to get it into the right place.

Whether you’re having a general or local anaesthetic, you may feel a little sore after your operation just on your leg where the catheter was put in and you may even get a bruise. But don’t worry, neither will last very long.

A standard cardiac catheterisation usually takes about 40 minutes but this can vary depending on whether your doctor needs to take a little more time examining your heart.

CARDIAC SURGERY

If you are having an operation to mend your heart, you will be given a general anaesthetic. That means you’ll be fast asleep during your operation so you won’t feel a thing.

A nurse or doctor will first prepare you for a surgery by asking you to change into a hospital gown. Then they’ll bring you into a special room where they perform cardiac surgeries. In this room, there will be lots of machines and equipment. But don’t worry, these machines and equipment are just there to help your doctor to make sure that you are ok during your operation.

You may then be put on a drip and you’ll probably have some monitoring equipment attached to you just like the small discs used in an Electrocardiogram.

After that, your doctor will give you a special anaesthetic medicine to put you to sleep while he performs the surgery.

There are a few types of cardiac surgery and each person’s surgery is different depending on what kind of treatment they need. However, there are two main types of cardiac surgery:

Open Heart Surgery:

This kind of surgery is performed when the doctor needs to fix a problem on the inside of your heart. A machine, called a heart-lung bypass machine, will be used during this kind of surgery. The heart-lung bypass machine will do all the work for your heart during surgery. In other words, it will pump your blood throughout your body so that your heart can relax while the doctor works on it.

Closed Heart Surgery:

This kind of surgery is mostly used to fix problems on the outside of your heart. During this kind of surgery, you may have some tubes attached to different areas of your body. These tubes will help your body to receive or get rid of extra fluids during your surgery.

All heart surgeries can take between 2 and 10 hours, sometimes longer. It all depends on exactly what kind of surgery you need. Your doctor will explain everything to you before your surgery so that you will know exactly what to expect.

When your surgery is finished you will spend some time in our Intensive Care Unit. Many of the tubes that were attached to you during your surgery may still be attached while you are in ICU. These will be removed by your doctor over the next few hours or days.

You will feel some pain after your surgery. To lessen any pain you feel, your nurse or doctor will give you medication through one of the tubes. This medication should take away a lot of the pain. You’ll also feel quite sleepy, which is a good thing because now is the time to get as much rest as you can.