The heart is a pump that is constantly beating to deliver blood to all parts of the body. For the heart to be effective, the heart’s “plumbing system” and “electrical system” must both work well together. Whenever there is a suspected problem with a patient’s heart, cardiologists with special training figure out what the problem is, and determine the best way to approach the problem. In children, many of these problems involve the plumbing of the heart; that is, the size and strength of the cardiac chambers, any holes in the heart that don’t belong, the valves that help blood move forward in one direction through the heart (and not backward!), and the blood vessels bringing blood into and out of the heart.
However, for the heart to work properly, all parts of the heart’s plumbing system also have to be well coordinated; this coordination is accomplished by the heart’s electrical system. The electrical system “listens in” to what else is going on in the body (for example, the individual is at rest or asleep, up and walking around, playing and jumping, or angry or sick), and adjusts the heartbeats accordingly – slow and steady when deeply asleep, and much faster with exercise.
Sometimes the heart’s normal electrical coordination is disturbed, causing the heart to beat too fast, too slow or very irregular. When this happens, the person may feel funny heartbeats (palpitations), chest pain , lightheaded or dizzy, possibly faint (syncope ), or even worse. Some patients with otherwise seemingly normal hearts can suddenly develop disturbances in the heart’s rhythm (so-called “arrhythmias”). Patients born with plumbing abnormalities (holes in the heart, abnormal valves, etc.) are more likely to develop arrhythmias, whether or not they’ve had surgery to correct or improve the heart’s plumbing.
At Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, we have a specialized cardiology team with expertise in diagnosing and treating arrhythmias in children and adults with congenital heart disease. These cardiac “electricians” are available 24/7 to work with many other healthcare teams, including other cardiologists and heart surgeons focusing on the heart’s “plumbing”, and providers in the emergency room, pediatric and neonatal intensive care units, in outpatient clinics in Louisville Metro and across the KY Commonwealth, and through online web-based services.
These “electricians of the heart” are able to find out what causes abnormal heartbeats in any patient through a careful understanding of the patient’s circumstances (eg; specific symptoms, prior medical history, etc.) and the use of tests including different types of electrocardiograms. Sometimes a minimally invasive procedure like an EP study is required to confirm the diagnosis. Once complete understanding of the patient’s arrhythmia has been made, physicians may or may not need to treat the problem. If treatment is required, we have the experience, resources and support to treat any cause, whether that involves medication, catheter-based treatments like ablation, implanting a pacemaker or defibrillator, or working with our heart surgeons during open heart surgery.
Norton Children’s Hospital is home to Kentucky’s only electrophysiology laboratory dedicated to children. At Norton Children’s Heart Institute, our electrophysiologists work closely with specially trained nurses and technicians in the Electrophysiology Laboratory to fully evaluate, treat and often cure many arrhythmias in children.
Electrophysiology diseases and conditions treated
- Syncope (fainting)
- Cardiac arrhythmias (disturbances in heart rhythm)
- Premature atrial contractions
- Premature ventricular contractions
- Supraventricular tachycardia
- Wolff Parkinson White syndrome
- Atrial flutter/fibrillation
- Heart block (AV block)
- Sick sinus syndrome
- Ventricular tachycardia
- Associated with post-operative congenital heart disease
- Idiopathic or structurally normal heart
- Long QT syndrome
- Brugada syndrome
- Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia
- Inpatient consultation for patients with known or suspected cardiac arrhythmias
- Close collaboration with pediatric and adult cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, critical care providers, emergency room providers and anesthesiologists
- Review of 12-lead ECGs, Holters and continuous ECG telemetry
- Electrophysiology procedures
- Intracardiac electrophysiology (EP) studies
- Transesophageal electrophysiology studies
- Three-dimensional EP mapping
- Radiofrequency catheter ablation
- Catheter cryoablation
- EP procedures without fluoroscopic radiation
- Intracardiac echocardiography
- Implantation of temporary pacemakers
- Implantation of permanent pacemakers, defibrillators and loop recorders
- Combined procedures
- EP procedures simultaneous with other cardiac catheterization (diagnostic or interventional)
- EP procedures simultaneous with cardiac surgery
Outpatient clinics and services
- Pediatric arrhythmias
- Adult Congenital Heart Disease arrhythmias
- Pacemaker and Defibrillator Clinics
- In-office interrogation and programming
- Analysis of remote device interrogation
Collaboration with healthcare providers in general Pediatric Cardiology, Adult Congenital Heart Disease, Advanced Heart Failure, Cardiomyopathy, Cardiac Transplantation and Genetics
Norton Children’s Hospital is home to Kentucky’s only electrophysiology laboratory dedicated to children. Electrophysiology is the study of the heart’s electrical system, which is responsible for coordinating all heartbeats.
Collaborative care that keeps you in Kentucky
The electrophysiology program works closely with physicians and programs within Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville. Other providers in Kentucky routinely refer patients to Norton Children’s Heart Institute for complex cases. We will not send your child out of state for care — we perform all diagnostic testing, surgeries and follow-up care at Norton Children’s Hospital.
The right kind of care for your child
Our providers from across the Norton Children’s network and UofL Physicians are skilled at treating heart conditions in children. You can draw strength, comfort and confidence from our highly trained specialists, including:
- Pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons
- Pediatric transplant surgeons
- Pediatric cardiologists
- Fetal cardiologists
- Adult congenital heart cardiologists
- Heart failure/heart transplant cardiologists
- Pediatric cardiac catheterization cardiologists
- Pediatric electrophysiologists
- Pediatric critical care physicians
- Cardiovascular anesthesiologists
- Cardiac critical care nurses
- Cardiac nurse practitioners
- Critical care pharmacists
- Child life specialists
- Diagnostic imaging specialists
- Family support team
- Genetic counselors
- Social workers
Why choose Norton Children’s Heart Institute
No other congenital heart surgery program in Kentucky, Ohio or Southern Indiana is ranked higher by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons than the Norton Children’s Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery Program.
- 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.
- Our board-certified and fellowship-trained pediatric cardiovascular surgeons are leaders in the field as clinicians and researchers.
- More than 5,000 children a year visit Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, for advanced heart care.
- Norton Children’s Heart Institute successfully performs more than 17,500 procedures a year.
- The Society of Thoracic Surgeons ranked Norton Children’s Heart Institute among the best in the region after studying years of our patients’ outcomes and our ability to handle a range of pediatric heart conditions, including the most severe.
- Norton Children’s Heart Institute has satellite outpatient centers in Bowling Green, Frankfort, Owensboro and Paducah; 28 tele-echocardiography locations in Kentucky and Southern Indiana; and six fetal echocardiography locations across Kentucky.
- The American Board of Thoracic Surgery has certified the cardiothoracic surgeons at Norton Children’s Hospital with subspecialty certification in congenital heart surgery.
- The Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit is under construction to give our patients the most advanced care available.
- Our multidisciplinary approach to pediatric heart surgery brings together our specialists in cardiothoracic surgery, cardiology, anesthesiology, cardiac critical care and other areas to create a complete care plan tailored for your child.
For more information on services or to schedule an appointment with the Norton Children’s Heart Institute:
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