Tests and Procedures
Many of the tests, procedures, and monitoring that occur in the PICU/PCICU can be very intimidating. However, every piece of equipment and every procedure performed is there to help your child get better. These tests and procedures are performed with equipment made especially for children, and every effort is made to ease any anxiety and discomfort your child may experience. Please ask your child's doctor or nurse if you have any questions or concerns regarding any test or procedure.
Your child may experience the following:
IVs (or intravenous lines) administer fluids and/or medications to your child and are sometimes used for monitoring their condition. They are usually inserted into a vein in the arms or legs with a small needle. (Your child's nurse or technician will make this as painless as possible.) At times a larger IV (a central line) may be inserted into the chest, neck, or groin in order to provide larger quantities of fluids or medications.
Similar to an IV, an arterial line is inserted into an artery in order to monitor blood pressure and blood oxygen levels.
Your child will be connected to a variety of monitors, which measure various vital signs, such as heart rate, oxygen levels, etc. They are usually connected to the monitor through several painless "chest leads," which are small patches that stick to the chest with a wire coming from it to the monitor. Your child may also be connected to a machine that monitors blood oxygen levels. This monitor is attached to your child like a small bandage on the fingers or toes.
Your child's attending physician may order a number of different tests or procedures to diagnose, monitor, and treat an illness or injury. Tests are usually laboratory tests or imaging tests, and may include:
Rescue Therapies for Acute Breathing Difficulties
Children who need help breathing may be attached to a ventilator. This machine is connected to the child either through an endotracheal tube (a tube that is placed into the windpipe through the mouth or nose) or a tracheostomy (a tube surgically placed directly into the trachea). Depending on your child's condition, he or she may be put on a conventional, mechanical ventilator or a specialized ventilator (such as high frequency oscillator or high frequency positive pressure ventilator).
Administration of surfactant
Inhaled nitric oxide
Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)
Catheter of the Bladder
Some children may be too ill to pass urine on their own or all excreted fluids may need to be measured. In those cases, a Foley catheter is inserted into the bladder to drain urine from the body.
Children may need a tube inserted into the stomach to provide nutrition if they cannot take enough food by mouth or if they continually aspirate when eating.