Frequently Asked Questions

What is cardiac catheterization?

Cardiac catheterization is a general term for a procedure that uses catheters to diagnose or treat heart problems. Your child’s interventional cardiology doctor inserts a long, flexible tube (catheter) into a blood vessel, then guides the catheter into the heart to find and/or treat any problems. For diagnostic cardiac catheterization, we take blood samples and measure oxygen levels and pressures in each of the parts of the heart.

What is angiography?

Angiography enables us to visualize your child’s blood vessels and heart chambers. We inject contrast dye via a catheter, so that we can use x-ray to see the anatomy as well as the path the dye takes through the heart. This helps us diagnose heart conditions by empowering us to study how blood flows through the heart and see where obstructions may exist.

What is interventional cardiology?

Interventional cardiology is cardiac catheterization with the special purpose of repairing a heart condition with an interventional procedure. We may use a balloon to open a heart valve and put a stent (tube) into a blood vessel to keep it open. We can also use devices to fix the walls between the upper and lower chambers of your child’s heart, create a working heart valve, or close abnormal or unnecessary vessels. Interventional cardiology via cardiac catheterization can result in a shorter hospital stay, a quicker recovery, and lower risk (versus traditional heart surgeries).

What can I expect when my child receives a cardiac catheterization? 

When your heart doctor orders a cardiac catheterization to diagnose heart disease or better understand your child’s heart disease, your child will receive the procedure in one of our Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization and Interventional Cardiology laboratories. It is not surgery, so the stay will be short. The procedure typically takes two to four hours, and your child will likely be able to go home that same day or the next morning. Your child may receive anesthesia or a sedative to help them relax for the procedure. In a pre-procedure appointment, you will receive information on how to prepare for cardiac catheterization.