Interventional Cardiac Catheterization

Pediatric heart specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with UofL School of Medicine, use less invasive procedures when possible, including interventional heart catheterizations to repair congenital heart defects. The term “interventional” implies the doctor doing the catheterization is performing a procedure, or intervening, in order to treat the condition or defect.

Heart catheterization means threading a thin tube, called a catheter, through a blood vessel until it reaches the heart. Physicians use the catheter and other tools to diagnose or repair certain heart conditions and defects.

Many conditions that would have needed open heart surgery in the past can be treated with interventional heart catheterizations.

Pediatric interventional cardiologists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute are specially trained to perform these procedures in children.

Norton Children’s Heart Institute is the leading provider of pediatric heart care in Louisville and Southern Indiana.

Norton Children’s has a network of outreach diagnostic and treatment services conveniently located throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

What Happens During an Interventional Cardiac Catheterization?

During an interventional heart catheterization, the cardiologist can use a number of special catheters, balloons and devices to treat or fix a child’s heart condition or defect. Interventional cardiologists often use catheterization to place a specific device in a precise location inside the heart.

The devices can:

  • Close or plug abnormal or extra blood vessels
  • Open or close holes in the heart
  • Widen narrow blood vessels
  • Improve or repair other heart conditions

If your child is a candidate for an interventional procedure, the Norton Children’s Heart Institute team will identify the best device to fix your child’s heart defect or condition. After the procedure, the cardiologist will tell you which specific devices were used for your child.

Why Have an Interventional Cardiac Catheterization?

Interventional cardiac catheterization can:

  • Save the lives of critically ill children
  • Delay or avoid surgery
  • Can help or fix many congenital heart defects

Physicians prefer to use interventional catheterization instead of surgery for some heart conditions. Other times, catheterization is a short-term solution to stabilize the child’s condition until surgery can be performed more safely.

Various types of treatments are performed using catheterization, and they are different for each patient. Most commonly, catheterization is used to repair:

  • Narrowed valves or arteries that obstruct blood flow
  • Measure pressures in the heart and surrounding major blood vessels
  • Holes in the heart, such as an atrial septal defect (a hole between the upper two chambers of the heart)

Interventional Cardiac Catheterization Complications and Follow-up Care

After the procedure, your child will be monitored for a couple of hours or longer, depending on your child’s condition. Your child’s care team will talk with you about specific after-care instructions.

These procedures generally have a low risk. Minor complications happen in fewer than 5% of all cases. Each type of interventional heart catheterization procedure has its own unique risks and complications. You will be able to ask the interventional cardiologist performing the procedure questions prior to the catheterization.

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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