• Heart Center
  • Electrophysiology

    Electrophysiology at Texas Children’s Heart Center offers cutting-edge treatment for patients with heart rhythm abnormalities.

    Most heart rhythm abnormalities cause the heart to beat either too fast or too slow and can be dangerous if they cause a signficant decrease in the heart’s ability to pump blood. There are many causes of arrhythmias including congenital heart disease, heart muscle disease such as cardiomyopathies, genetic disorders, accessory pathways of electrical conduction, electrolyte distrubances, infections, and others. Depending on the arrhythmia and the cause, they can be seen in children of all ages and even sometimes in children before they are born. 

    Setting standards

    Electrophysiology at Texas Children’s Heart Center offers the full compliment of diagnostic and therapeutic options to evaluate and manage any heart rhythm abnormality. Our service interprets an average of 20,000 ECG’s and 4,000 Holters each year. Other non-invasive services include event monitors, exercise treadmills, tilt table evaluations, and genetic testing. 

    We have one of the highest volume pediatric centers in the country for invasive electrophysiology studies and pacemaker/defibrillator implantations and maintains success rates for ablations that exceed the national average. Innovation, research, and experience have made Electrophysiology and Texas Children’s Heart Center one of the leading centers in the world for the diagnosis and treatment of arrhythmias in children and adults with congenital heart disease.

    Available treatments for arrhythmias

    Arrhythmias are most commonly treated with medications that affect the heart rate and/or change the heart muscle’s ability to conduct electrical current. In some cases patients require an electrophysiology study which uses special catheters positioned through a patient’s veins into the heart. Using these catheters, the electrical signals of the heart are studied to determine the mechanism for a particular arrhythmia and in many cases this mechanism is eliminated without disturbing the heart’s normal electrical conduction. Each year about 200 catheter based studies are performed by our team of pediatric cardiac electrophysiologists at Texas Children’s Heart Center.

    There are some patients who have heart rhythm abnormalities that may require either an implantable pacemaker or defibrillator. Pacemakers are implanted for abnormally slow heart rates or patients who do not conduct electricity appropriately between the top and bottom chamber. Defibrillators are implanted as treatment to prevent sudden death from fast ventricular arrhythmias that can be life threatening. The pacemaker works by monitoring a patient’s native heart rate and electrical conduction. It will deliver a small amount of energy through a lead connected to the heart muscle to make it contract if the native heart rate is not fast enough. Defibrillators watch the heart for excessive and dangerously fast arrhythmias from the ventricle and will deliver energy to the heart to re-establish a normal rhythm. On average approximately 40 pacemakers and 25 defibrillators are implanted each year in the Texas Children’s Heart Center.

    Follow-up

    Electrophysiology at Texas Children’s Heart Center maintains a high volume clinic to provide outpatient evaluation and follow-up for patients with arrhythmias of all types. The service also performs an average of 1000 pacemaker and defibrillator interrogations each year. Almost half of those evaluations are completed utilizing technology which allows patients to transmit information from their device at home via the internet or phone line.  Many of the newer pacemakers and defibrillators have wireless technology that makes that process even easier for the patients and their families.

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