What to Expect During Your Child's Interventional Cardiology Visit

The first step is that your child's doctor will refer them to us for a heart catheterization. They'll tell you why your child needs it. Be sure to ask them questions if you have concerns.

To refer a patient to the Interventional Cardiology Program at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh:

Here's what to expect before, during, and after your visit.

Before Your Visit to the Interventional Heart Cath Lab at UPMC Children's Hospital

Once we get your doctor's referral:

  • A member of the heart cath team will call you. They'll work with you to schedule a date for the procedure.
  • You may also have a pre-cath clinic visit scheduled to meet with a heart doctor or advanced practice provider. They'll go over the details of your or your child’s planned care.
  • You'll get a phone call with details about your visit the workday before. This will include what time to be at the hospital, when to stop eating and drinking, and any other instructions.

The Day of Your Child's Interventional Heart Cath Procedure

  • If you're driving to UPMC Children's, park in the Penn garage under the hospital. If arriving by other means, enter the hospital's main entrance.
  • Take the Grape elevators to the 4th floor (same-day surgery) and check-in.
  • We'll get your or your child's height, weight, and vital signs. We also may place an IV.
  • You'll meet with the heart cath anesthesia team and sign consent forms for the procedure.
  • When it's time for the procedure, you or your family or support person can check in to the waiting area. This is on the 4th floor next to the heart cath labs. It offers space to relax and often has small refreshments.
  • During your child's heart cath, we provide hourly updates either in-person or by phone.

What Happens During a Heart Cath?

During an interventional heart cath, your doctor will:

  • Insert a thin, flexible tube (catheter) into blood vessels — most often in the groin. They can also use veins in the neck or arm.
  • Guide the catheter through the blood vessels and heart using a special x-ray called fluoroscopy.
  • Use special catheters, balloons, and devices to treat or repair heart problems.

Doctors can:

  • Open or close holes in the heart.
  • Widen narrowed vessels or valves.
  • Close or plug abnormal or extra vessels.
  • Replace poorly working heart valves.
  • Improve or repair other heart conditions.

After a Heart Cath at UPMC Children's

Once we finish the procedure:

  • The doctor will come and speak with you or your family.
  • Based on your or your child's recovery and care needs, you’ll go to the post-anesthesia recovery unit (PACU, 4th floor). Or we’ll take you to the cardiac ICU (CICU) on the 4th or 7th floor to rest.
  • If recovering in the PACU, we may discharge you or your child on the same day. Or we might want you or your child to stay overnight. We allow two guests to stay overnight with patients.
  • Your PCP or the doctor who referred you will get the results shortly after the heart cath.