What is Cardiac Catheterization?
Cardiac catheterization is a technique used to diagnose and/or treat certain heart conditions. The technique uses a small, hollow tube called a catheter. The catheter is inserted into a blood vessel, normally through the leg or neck.
When used to correct congenital (birth) heart defects, cardiac catheterization carries lower risks, fewer complications and faster recovery time than open-heart surgery. For young heart patients, this can mean a better quality of life and less time recovering in the hospital.
The procedures usually last a few hours and many of our patients are able to return home the same day.
Diagnosing Heart Conditions with Cardiac Catheterization
Cardiac catheterization will tell us a lot about your child’s heart. We check the pressure in each of the heart’s chambers and blood vessels, sample oxygen levels in these different locations, and take pictures (angiograms) to better define any problems that may exist.
The angiogram starts with injecting contrast dye into the different parts of the heart and blood vessels. The pictures are recorded with x-rays which can then be used to help us determine any heart problems your child may have.
Treating Heart Conditions with Cardiac Catheterization
With cardiac catheterization, your child can avoid open-heart surgery. We can correct problems using a balloon catheter or a wire mesh tube called a stent. Depending on your child’s condition, we may perform:
- Balloon valvuloplasty - Used to open a narrowed heart valve (aortic or pulmonary stenosis).
- Balloon angioplasty - Used to open narrowed blood vessels.
- Stent placement - Used to open up and support narrow blood vessels.
- Device closures - Used to close holes or communications within the heart wall (atrial or ventricular septal defect, patent ductus arteriosus).
- Heart valve placement - Used to replace congenitally abnormal heart valves.
Your child's cardiologist will explain the plan for treatment of your child's condition, including which device will be used and what you can expect from the procedure.