Heart Catheterization in a Child

The board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, may use cardiac (heart) catheterization to diagnose or treat a child’s heart condition.

Your child’s cardiologist will insert a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into a vein or artery in the groin and thread it up to the heart. Our specialists perform this procedure in a pediatric catheterization lab.

Once in the area of the heart, the cardiologist uses the catheter to collect measurements and blood samples from the heart’s chambers and major blood vessels. The detailed information your child’s doctor collects during a heart catheterization can provide greater detail and help the doctor reach a precise diagnosis.

Pediatric catheterization (cath) lab procedures also can be used to treat some heart conditions. Specialized catheters can deliver tiny balloons to open narrowed blood vessels or devices that can close blood vessels or some holes between heart chambers (septal defects).

Some pediatric cath lab procedures are used to repair a heart issue that previously would have required surgery. Others provide a temporary step until the patient is ready for a surgical repair.

Preparing for a Pediatric Cath Lab Procedure

Norton Children’s Heart Institute providers will likely perform a chest X-ray, an electrocardiogram and some blood tests prior to the procedure. Some of these tests can be done at one of our satellite locations.

Your child will need to be sedated (relaxed or asleep) for the catheterization. A specialist in pediatric anesthesia will provide this anesthesia to your child for this procedure. Your child’s pediatric anesthesiologist may also prescribe a sedative for your child before he or she goes to the pediatric cath lab at Norton Children’s Hospital. Like an operating room, you won’t be able to enter the pediatric cath lab, but we’ll keep you updated during your child’s procedure.

Depending on the type of pediatric cath lab procedure and how well your child recovers, your child may need to spend the night at Norton Children’s Hospital for observation.

Why Norton Children’s Heart Institute?

Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, is a comprehensive pediatric heart surgery, heart failure and heart transplant program serving Kentucky, Southern Indiana and beyond.

The goal of the full-service Norton Children’s Heart Institute is to provide care for the child and the whole family. Our specialists are prepared to repair even the most complex congenital and acquired heart conditions.

Our heart team includes:

  • Pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons
  • Pediatric transplant surgeons
  • Pediatric cardiologists
    • Fetal cardiologists
    • Adult congenital heart cardiologists
    • Heart failure/heart transplant cardiologists
    • Pediatric electrophysiologists
    • Pediatric cardiac catheterization cardiologists
  • Pediatric cardiovascular anesthesiologists
  • Pediatric intensive care physicians
  • Cardiac critical care nurses
  • Critical care pharmacists
  • Family support team
  • Child life specialists
  • Rehabilitation specialists
  • Social workers
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Norton Children’s Heart Institute

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