Cardiology/Heart Disease 

Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization

Catheterization provides valuable diagnostic information and therapies for many forms of congenital heart disease that previously could be treated only with open-heart surgery. We are known for our success in performing some of the most technically demanding and cutting edge procedures.

What is Cardiac Catheterization?

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive, specialized procedure in which a long, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted through a tiny skin entry site (about the size of a thin ballpoint pen) in the top of the leg into a vein and artery. Under real time x-ray guidance, catheters are gently directed through these blood vessels to the heart, allowing a close look at the structures inside. The procedure is performed in the hospital by a specially trained interventional pediatric cardiologist.

State-of-the-art ultrasound imaging and digital x-ray recording technology is also used during catheterizations to allow the cardiologist to evaluate the heart from different angles, providing direct visualization in real time. The cardiologist is able to review data during the procedure and determine whether or not an intervention needs to be performed at that time. Depending on the results of the cardiac catheterization, additional tests or procedures may be scheduled to gather further diagnostic information or to treat the condition.

Our Nurse Practitioner will discuss with you how to prepare your child or family member for the procedure and will provide any special instructions necessary depending on the patient's specific situation.

What Makes Our Program Special?

Your child is in highly-trained, experienced hands. Our pediatric cardiologists have specialized training in diagnostic and interventional cardiology and have pioneered innovative minimally invasive catheter techniques used widely today to repair congenital heart defects in children and adults. It is our goal to care for you promptly, thoroughly and with the thoughtfulness and compassion that you and your child or family member deserve.

  • We use the least invasive techniques, whenever possible.
  • We make it easy for you to schedule timely appointments.
  • We see every patient and family prior to the procedure and make sure all your questions are fully answered, including why catheterization is necessary and why at this specific time.
  • In an emergency, your calls are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • We make it a priority to return your phone call in less than 24 hours - usually the same day.

Our Expertise

Our team is skilled in performing diagnostic and interventional cardiac catheterizations on patients with congenital heart disease or heart conditions, including:

  • Catheter based closure of atrial septal defects
  • Device closure of a patent ductus arteriosus
  • Balloon valvuloplasty for aortic valve stenosis and pulmonary valve stenosis
  • Cardiac biopsies for heart transplant patients
  • Balloon angioplasty
  • Stent placement for coarctation of the aorta and for pulmonary artery stenosis.
  • Dilated or restrictive cardiomyopathy
  • Ventricular septal defects
  • Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome
  • Tricuspid atresia
  • Ebstein's anomaly
  • Truncus Arteriosus
  • Transposition of the great arteries

Why Do We Use Catheterization Techniques?

Use of catheter techniques can prevent the need for open-heart surgical repair. It can also provide valuable information in preparation for heart surgery, or diagnostic information with possible interventions if necessary after heart surgery. Catheterization is able to:

  • Directly observe heart structure and function
  • Measure blood pressure and oxygen levels at specific locations within the heart
  • Treat abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Close holes in the heart
  • Expand narrowed passages
  • Open heart valves that are blocked
  • Replace certain heart valves
  • Obtain sample tissue for biopsies of heart muscle

How Risky Is the Procedure?

Cardiac catheterization is a common medical procedure that rarely causes any serious problems. It is generally considered very safe when performed by a highly trained, experienced cardiac team.

Will My Child or Family Member Feel Any Pain?

No. Catheterization in children is performed under general anesthesia while the child is asleep. In adults, catheterization is performed with mild sedation or, in certain instances, under general anesthesia with the patient asleep. An injection of local anesthetic is also given to every patient under the skin where the catheter is going to be inserted.

Anesthesia is administered and closely monitored by an anesthesiologist trained to care for patients of all ages with congenital heart disease. A specially trained staff of nurses, technicians, and physicians makes sure your child or family member is comfortable.

Following the procedure, the catheterization site is covered by a bandage and the skin heals. Your child will have no memory of the procedure.

How Quickly Will My Child or Family Member Recover?

Catheterization procedures generally have shorter recovery times than surgical treatments for the same conditions. Patients are closely monitored by cardiologists and specially trained nurses and nurse practitioners for several hours following the procedure. Depending on the nature of the catheterization, patients go home the same day or the next morning.

What Kind of Pre-testing Is Necessary?

Prior to a scheduled catheterization, we will have your child or family member come in for a complete medical history, comprehensive physical exam, and cardiac studies that will include:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG - a non-invasive painless recording of the heart's electrical system)
  • Echocardiogram (non--invasive, painless ultrasound of the heart)
  • Chest x-ray
  • Blood tests

These studies will be scheduled at a time convenient for your family, and the results conveyed to you by our cardiologists promptly. Depending on our conclusions, other tests may be needed.

Our Patient Coordinator will escort your family to each test.

Providing Evidence of Dental Health

Prior to catheterization, we require all patients aged three years and above to provide evidence of dental health from their dentists, indicating that their teeth and gums are in good condition, free of cavities or other dental problems that can be the source of potential complications from a bloodstream infection.

If you do not have a dentist or would like to see a dentist at our hospital, we can help you set up an appointment with a dentist at the Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Follow-up with Referring Physicians

Promptly after your visit, we personally call your referring cardiologist, pediatrician, or primary care physician to discuss our findings and follow up with a full written report.

To Request an Appointment or for Further Information

Please contact us at:
(212) 746-3561

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Pediatric Interventional Cardiology Services
525 East 68th Street, F677
New York, NY 10065
Phone: (212) 746-3561

For office hours and staff information, view our medical practice page.