Increasing numbers of heart conditions can be treated with minimally-invasive catheter-based interventions. Texas Children’s Heart Center, the largest program in the region to offer interventional cardiac catheterization for infants, children and adolescents, performs 1,200 cardiac catheterization procedures annually.
For certain cardiac defects, an interventional cardiac catheterization procedure can achieve the same result as an operation, and procedures can be performed in concert with heart surgery to help make the surgery more directed and effective.
With diagnostic catheterization, a small catheter, which resembles a long straw, is advanced into the heart through a large vein. A vein in an arm or leg usually is chosen. The catheter is directed into each heart chamber to measure the pressure, check the oxygen amount and inject dye to photograph the heart. This information is used to better determine your child’s cardiac abnormalities and decide if surgery is needed.
Using the same technique, the cardiologist can manipulate special catheters through the heart chambers. These interventional procedures include opening heart valves which are closed or impeded; closing abnormal blood vessels and connections in the heart, arteries and veins; and closing holes in the heart. In some patients, holes can be made in the heart to decompress the pressure in one of the chambers.
Your child will receive intravenous sedation during the cardiac catheterization. Most children resume normal activities and are back at school within a day.