The diagnostic tests your child undergoes will help the cardiologist determine whether a problem actually is present and whether it's a congenital defect or heart disease.
Congenital defects are abnormalities in the formation of the heart and/or its major blood vessels. These defects are present at birth in eight of every 1,000 babies, but may go undetected for many years. Abnormalities range from simple defects, such as a small hole in the wall between two heart chambers, to more complex problems. Here is a list of common congenital heart defects:
Heart disease in children can be caused by a variety of factors, including viral infections and chromosomal abnormalities. Often, heart disease develops as a complication of other diseases or medical conditions.
Once your child's problem has been diagnosed, the next step is to correct it. For some children, no immediate intervention will be necessary. For others, pharmacological, interventional catheterization or surgery may be the recommended course of treatment.
For many children with heart problems, surgery used to be the only treatment option. Today, minimally invasive procedures, such as interventional catheterization, are often considered the first choice in treatment and routinely performed instead of surgery. Interventional catheterization can provide a permanent solution for some conditions or a short-term solution for children who will need surgery later on.
What’s the difference? In terms of what your child will experience, and how you’ll prepare for the procedure, there’s very little, if any, difference between diagnostic and interventional catheterization. In both procedures, thin, flexible catheters are inserted into a vein or artery in the groin area and guided to the heart.
Balloon catheters and stents can be used to open narrowed valves or arteries. There are also coils and special devices introduced through the catheter, used to plug up unwanted blood vessels and holes in the wall between heart chambers.
Common congenital and acquired heart problems that can sometimes be treated by interventional catheterization include:
For some heart diseases and abnormalities, the best course of treatment is surgery. Heart surgery procedures are generally classified as closed-heart or open-heart. Pacemaker implantation is also considered a minor surgical procedure.