Catheterization Lab

Children's has the only dedicated pediatric cardiac catheterization lab in the Upper Midwest.

Increasingly, cardiologists and cardiac surgeons perform corrective procedures without subjecting patients to the rigors, potential complications, and extended hospital stays of open-heart surgery. These "minimally invasive" techniques allow smaller, more ill patients to endure major surgical procedures with minimalized risks. These procedures typically use cardiac catheterization, which involves inserting a catheter (tube) into a vessel in the groin area, arm or neck and then threading it into the heart.

Children's catheterization lab, or "cath" lab, was the first in the Upper Midwest designed for and solely dedicated to the unique needs of children. Children's cath lab sees more than 300 children per year and offers a full range of services, interventional diagnostic catheterization, and Electrophysiology studies. The electrophysiology lab is the only pediatric-specific lab in the Upper Midwest and offers electrophysiology studies both to diagnose heart conditions and to correct specific cardiac abnormalities.

At Children's, catheterization procedures are performed in a pediatric-specific catheterization lab. Children's cath lab is the only one in the region designed and dedicated solely for the unique medical needs of children. Children's cath lab team sees more than 250 children per year for diagnostic catheterization procedures, interventional catheterization procedures, and electrophysiologic (EP) studies. The cath lab is built to operating room specifications, which allows physicians to quickly initiate surgery in the rare instances where a catheterization patient's condition warrants it.

. Services typically are possible for children with intracardiac devices.

Services include:

  • Angioplasty
  • ASD closure
  • Balloon atrial septostomy
  • Diagnostic angiography
  • Electrophysiology services
  • Endomyocardial biopsy
  • Fenestrated Fontan
  • Hemodynamic evaluation
  • Intravascular stent placement
  • PDA closure
  • Valvuloplasty
  • Vascular testing
  • Vasodilator testing
  • VSD closure

The following diagnoses typically can be treated in the cath lab:

  • Arrhythmia
  • Arterio-venous fistula
  • Atrial septal defect
  • Coarctation of the aorta
  • Coronary fistula
  • Patent ductus arteriosus
  • Patent foramen ovale
  • Pulmonary artery stenosis
  • Valvar aortic stenosis
  • Valvar pulmonary stenosis
  • Ventricular septal defects

Cardiac catheterizations are procedures in which tiny equipment is inserted into the body through a catheter (tube), which is usually inserted through a large blood vessel at the top of the thigh. Once inside, the physician performing the procedure guides the catheter to the heart, watching the process on a monitor. Some patients require catheterization as a diagnostic tool, often in preparation for surgery. More frequently, though, cardiac catheterization is used to correct a wide range of heart defects.

Team members in the cardiac catheterization lab also provide electrophysiology services, which help diagnose and treat disturbances in heart rhythms. During an electrophysiology study, a specially trained pediatric cardiac specialist will induce an arrhythmia--a disturbance in the electrical activity in the heart--in order to diagnose the source of the problem, evaluate the effectiveness of medicines being used to treat heart rhythm disorders, or assess the need for surgeries or other treatments. Sometimes, treatment can begin immediately while the patient is still in the cath lab.

Children's has the only cath lab in Minnesota designed for children. The technology and equipment in the lab was specifically selected for treating young patients, whose bodies vary much more than adults' bodies in size and weight and whose cardiac conditions manifest very differently than adults' do. The cath lab is built to operating-room specifications. While rare, a catheterization patient's condition may require that physicians quickly initiate surgery without moving the patient. The technology of the cath lab allows heart surgeons to watch the procedures, especially higher-risk ones, from a variety of portable monitors. These features help optimize quality of care.

The cath lab is located near the pediatric intensive care unit at Children's - Minneapolis.