Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a specialized procedure in which a long, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into a vein and guided into the heart, allowing a close look at the structures inside. Using state-of-the-art high-speed, high-resolution digital imaging equipment, both diagnostic and interventional cardiac catheterization procedures can be performed by specially trained CHKD cardiologists for children with congenital and acquired heart disease. In many cases, delicate procedures can be performed inside the heart to correct defects and without the need for open-heart surgery.

Among the various ways cardiac catheterization can be used are:

  • to obtain cardiac tissue samples for biopsy
  • to open the atrial septum in congenital heart defects that cause a child to become cyanotic (blue color of the skin, lips and nailbeds due to an insufficient level of oxygen in the blood)
  • to place mesh devices that close small holes inside the heart (such as with atrial septal defect or ventricular septal defect) or intentionally block blood flow in a blood vessel (such as with patent ductus arteriosus or pulmonary collateral vessels)
  • to place wire devices, called stents, in narrowed arteries to keep them open
  • to conduct electrophysiologic studies (EPS), an invasive test that gives the physician he capability of finding the site of an arrythmia's origin within the heart tissue, thus determining how to best treat it.
  • to open narrowed values and/or blood vessels.

Cardiac catheterization can be performed on children of any age, including newborns immediately after birth.

For more information about CHKD's cardiac catheterization laboratory, please call (757) 668-7214.