Heart Catheterization in a Child

The board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, 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 likely will 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 Choose Norton Children’s Heart Institute

The Adult Congenital Heart Association has recognized Norton Children's Heart Institute for its expertise treating adult congenital heart disease.

  • Norton Children’s Hospital has been a pioneer in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, performing Kentucky’s first pediatric heart transplant in 1986 and becoming the second site in the United States to perform an infant heart transplant.
  • The American Board of Thoracic Surgery has certified our cardiothoracic surgeons in congenital heart surgery.
  • The Adult Congenital Heart Association has accredited Norton Children’s Heart Institute’s Adult Congenital Heart Program as the only comprehensive care center in Kentucky and Indiana treating adults born with a heart defect.
  • More than 5,000 children a year visit Norton Children’s Heart Institute for advanced heart care.
  • Norton Children’s Heart Institute has offices across Kentucky and Southern Indiana to bring quality pediatric heart care closer to home.
  • The Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at Norton Children’s Hospital is the largest dedicated CICU in Kentucky, equipped with 17 private rooms and the newest technology available for heart care.
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