A cardiac catheterization is a specialized minimally invasive procedure that may be performed for either “diagnostic” or “therapeutic” purposes. Cardiac catheterization is NOT a surgical procedure. Most often, children will be able to go home the same day, although sometimes may require overnight observation. The type of catheterization procedure that is performed depends on the underlying heart condition. Some catheterization is performed because of abnormalities with the electrical activity of the heart. These procedures are called “electrophysiology” studies and often involve “mapping” (creating a unique map of the electric circuit of the heart) and/or “ablation” (eradication of extra circuits in the heart).
An echocardiogram or ultrasound of the heart uses ultrasound waves to penetrate the chest wall. The Cardiovascular Technologist or Cardiac Sonographer brings the echocardiogram machine to your child’s bedside. The machine has lots of buttons and a computer screen on the top of it. Attached to the machine are long chords with some expanded heads called Ultrasonographic Probes.
A common way of looking at the electric system of the heart is the electrocardiogram (EKG). By placing several electrodes on different parts of your body, the electric wave that is generated inside the heart is picked up and printed on a piece of paper called an electrocardiogram. Doctors read this printout to understand what is going on with your child’s heart.
An event monitor is an ambulatory heart rhythm monitoring device. It is portable (“ambulatory”) and therefore allows us to evaluate a patient’s heart rate and rhythm remotely whenever a patient is having symptoms. The device is simple to use, lightweight and compact. So, whenever a patient is feeling any heart-related symptoms, such as palpitations, he simply places the event monitor against his chest, presses a button, allows approximately thirty seconds for the device to record the heart rhythm.
Exercise Stress Test
An exercise stress test provides an objective measure of a patient’s exercise capacity. It enables us to evaluate a patient’s heart rate and blood pressure response to exercise (your heart rate and blood pressure normally rise in response to increasing activity and subsequently decrease back to normal with rest) in addition to evaluating a patient’s heart rhythm. It also enables us to ensure that the heart muscle is receiving an adequate amount of blood when it needs it the most (ie, with exercise). The test may also provide indirect information regarding exercise-induced asthma.
A Holter monitor is a portable device we often distribute to patients to determine their heart rate and rhythm over the course of a 24-hour period. This monitor enables us to establish the following important parameters about the electrical activity of your heart:
- Minimum, maximum, and average heart rate
- The presence (or absence) of any abnormal heart rhythms (“arrhythmias”)
- The presence (or absence) and frequency of any abnormal heart beats (ie, “premature atrial or ventricular beats”)
Tilt Table Test
A tilt table test is extremely valuable in diagnosing fainting and autonomic disorders. If you have been told by your doctor that you need a tilt table test, please read the following information carefully.
Before the test:
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes (t-shirt and comfortable bottoms) to wear during the test.
- If you are taking any beta-blockers or anxiety medications, you may be asked to discontinue these the night before your test. If you are unsure, please ask the doctor.
- Avoid any large meals up to 4 hours before the test.