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A cardiac catheterization or “heart cath” is the most precise way to test how the heart is functioning.
This minimally invasive procedure uses thin, flexible tubes — called “catheters” — to look at and gather data about the heart from the inside.
To get inside the heart, a pediatric cardiologist and team of heart cath experts will:
In some cases, the team may also use blood vessels in the neck or arm to insert the catheter.
Once in place, the heart catheters will gather different types of data based on what the doctor needs to know.
The cardiologist can then plan the best care with the results of your child's heart cath and:
At the Heart Institute at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, we perform heart catheterizations only if the cardiologist cannot get the information he or she needs from other diagnostic tests. We never do them unless necessary.
If your child needs a heart cath, we will admit him or her to the hospital.
There are many types of catheters that doctors can use.
Each one serves a different purpose and allows the heart care team to:
Your child may need a heart cath before some types of operations to provide the information the surgeon needs. For some children, doctors may repeat the test after surgery to assess the results of the operation.
Some children need an additional study of the heart’s electrical conduction system during the catheterization. This electrophysiology study (EP) uses an electrode catheter.
The catheter senses electrical activity in various areas of the heart and can deliver electrical impulses to pace the heart during the procedure.
Results from the EP study can help doctors diagnose arrhythmias and plan a method of treatment.
More and more, doctors are using cardiac catheterizations as both a diagnostic tool and a method of treatment.
Some heart cath treatments are:
At the Heart Institute, we do about 30 to 40 catheterizations each month.
For most children, it's safe. Very sick newborns and children carry extra risks.
The cardiologist will explain any special risks for your child. Parents must sign a consent form before their child's heart cath.
After the cardiologist decides your child needs a heart cath, a scheduling secretary from the Heart Institute will contact you to arrange an admission date.
At times, we might need to change dates if:
We will reschedule canceled catheterizations as soon as possible.
View the cardiac catheterization patient procedure sheet.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
With myCHP, you can request appointments, review test results, and more.
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Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Visit Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation's website to make a donation online.