Heart Center

Interventional Cardiology

Why Choose Us?

If your child needs a heart catheterization, there’s no better place in the West for that procedure than Primary Children’s Hospital. We are one of the largest pediatric catheterization programs in the West, with three full-time cardiologists who specialize in pediatric cardiac catheterization and perform over 600 heart catheterizations each year.

We offer state-of-the-art technology and innovative approaches to treat congenital heart disease. Whenever possible, we choose minimally invasive approaches to treat common congenital heart problems; like holes in the heart and narrowed or dysfunctional valves. These problems can often be treated by catheterization rather than open-heart surgery. This allows patients to leave the hospital feeling better sooner, and with only a band-aid rather than a surgical scar. 

Why might my child need a cardiac catheterization? 

Cardiac catheterization gives healthcare providers detailed information about the heart and blood vessels. It may be used for the following reasons: 
  • To evaluate the heart and blood vessels of patients with heart or lung conditions, including birth defects of the heart, heart diseases, heart failure or lung diseases. 
  • To treat heart and blood vessel problem, such as holes in the heart, narrowed or dysfunctional heart valves or abnormal blood vessels. 
  • To evaluate the heart and blood vessels of a patient after a heart transplant. 

What is cardiac catheterization? 

During this procedure, an interventional cardiologist (heart doctor) inserts a long, flexible tube called a catheter into a blood vessel in your child’s groin or neck.

The catheter is then threaded to the heart and major blood vessels of the lung and body and the cardiologist may perform one or more of the following procedures:

  • Diagnostic catheterization: Measuring the pressure and oxygen in the blood to assess the heart and blood vessels.  This is typically done before the cardiologist proceeds to a corrective or interventional catheterization.

  • Angiography: Taking pictures of the heart chambers and/or blood vessels, using x-rays and x-ray dye (also called “contrast”).  This is done with all cardiac catheterizations.

  • Valve replacement: Using a catheter to insert a new heart valve (See Melody valve link to the right of this page).

  • Balloon valvuloplasty or balloon angioplasty: Using a catheter with a balloon to enlarge a narrow heart valve or blood vessel. This helps the blood flow more freely through the heart and blood vessels.

  • Closing a septal defect: Using a catheter to place a device that closes a hole between two chambers of the heart.

  • Balloon atrial septostomy: Using a catheter with a balloon to enlarge a hole between the upper chambers of the heart. For babies with certain heart defects, this allows them to have more oxygen in their blood before the defects are repaired.

  • Occlusion of blood vessels: Closing abnormal blood vessels with a metal coil or a device that is delivered through a catheter. This prevents the blood vessels from causing various problems, depending on their location in the body.

  • Stent placement: Using a catheter to insert and expand a stent (a wire support) to keep a blood vessel open.

  • Heart biopsy: removing small pieces of muscle from the inner surface of the heart. This helps doctors see what the heart muscle cells look like. This is typically done after a heart transplant. It may also be done if the doctor suspects an infection in the heart muscle. 

What to Expect

It's important to understand what to expect prior to, during and after a cardiac catheterization procedure. If you still have questions, never hesitate to ask your care providers. 

Prior to the procedure 

You will be called at home by the Same Day Surgery department the night before your scheduled procedure and provided with general instructions on how to prepare for your cath lab procedure. Patients scheduled for a Monday procedure will be contacted on the Friday afternoon prior. Depending on your child's age, there are different instructions on stopping food and liquid intake before the procedure. 

It is important to let us know if your child has a runny nose, cough, fever, vomiting, diarrhea or diaper rash prior to the scheduled procedure. 

Day of the procedure 

You will be visited by many people on the day of the procedure in your Same Day Surgery room. 

  • A nurse practitioner will take history and do a physical exam. 
  • The cardiac anesthesiologist will explain their role in monitoring your child during the procedure and obtain consent for general anesthesia (putting your child to sleep). 
  • A member of the catheterization lab team will explain the procedure and obtain consent. This is your chance to ask questions and discuss any concerns you might have. 

You will be able to escort your child to the Cath Lab and can stay with them right up until it is time to put them to sleep.

During the procedure 

You will be given a pager that will alert you when the procedure is finished. You can wait anywhere in the hospital during the procedure. Most cardiac catheter procedures take 2 - 4 hours. 

After the procedure 

When the pager alerts you, return to the Cath Lab. You will then have an opportunity to sit down with the cardiologist who performed your child's procedure and discuss the results. Your child will be moved to a recovery area while they wake up. After that, you will be notified when you can join them in their post-procedure room. 

Your child will be monitored by nursing staff for a minimum of 6 hours. Most children will be able to go home 24 hours after the procedure. 

Your cardiologist and nurse will give you specific instructions before you are discharged from the hospital on how to care for the procedure site and other considerations after a cardiac cath. 

Learn more

Cardiac Catheterization for You or Your Child

Quality and Outcomes Research

Quality and safety are some of our top priorities. Our program participates in national and international quality improvement efforts including: