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At the Heart Institute at Children's Hospital Colorado, we perform two types of cardiac catheterizations for children (commonly known as "heart caths"): diagnostic and interventional. Diagnostic catheterization is used to run a variety of heart tests, and interventional catheterization is used to make repairs to the heart.
Our heart research as well as these types of procedures have led to less invasive ways to fix heart disease, quicker recovery time and less risk when compared to more invasive heart procedures. We perform more than 800 heart catheterizations each year at our Heart Institute, and many defects, such as congenital heart disease in children, that once required open-heart surgery can now be corrected in the cardiac cath lab. Over the last several years, our cardiologists have led the way in the use of minimally invasive cardiac catheters to reach and repair heart problems in kids.
A diagnostic cardiac catheterization is used to test the heart to give us a better understanding of how each unique heart works. Three procedures are usually done during every heart catheterization:
An angiography is done by injecting a contrast agent (dye) into the body through a catheter (a small hollow tube that is similar to IV tubing). An x-ray movie is taken as the contrast moves through the heart. The purpose of an angiography test is for the cardiologist to see the flow of blood through and around the heart and determine if there are abnormalities or blockages. The cardiologist will also be able to see how the heart muscle is contracting and how the valves are working.
The purpose of an interventional cardiac catheterization is to fix a defect in the heart. The cardiologist will first perform most of the diagnostic techniques listed above, and then continue with corrective procedures that could include: