What is Heart Catheterization in Children?

Pediatric cardiac catheterization is a medical procedure that determines how well your child’s heart is working. A catheter is inserted into the heart to measure blood flow, blood pressure, and capture X-ray images. Our team at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital uses heart catheterization and a variety of other tests to diagnose and monitor potential heart conditions.

How does this procedure work?

Around 6 to 8 hours before the pediatric cardiac catheterization procedure, patients will be asked to avoid consuming food, drink, and certain medicines. After taking pre-procedure medication, a sheath is inserted into a blood vessel, usually in the groin area. Through this sheath, a long tube called a catheter is threaded through the vessel to the heart. With the catheter safely in place, various other instruments can be inserted to conduct tests on the heart. The risk factors can be mild or temporary, including bruising around where the catheter is inserted or itchiness/upset stomach if contrast dye is used. 

Our team and family-first approach

The Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization and Interventional Program at Nicklaus Children's Hospital is widely recognized as one of the world’s leaders in interventional cardiac catheterization. By utilizing the latest innovations in imaging technologies, coupled with the newest catheter and device technologies, the cardiologists at The Heart Program are able to routinely perform both simple and complex interventional cardiac catheterization procedures that serve to enhance or, in certain cases, eliminate the need for open-heart surgery.

While the catheterization laboratory is a high-tech environment, the program philosophy of high-tech meets high-touch is evident in every aspect of care. Families learn about their child’s procedure in a special pre-catheterization clinic and are encouraged to remain with their child in the cath lab until he or she is comfortably asleep. Blood work is completed while children are sleeping, in keeping with the hospital’s emphasis on minimizing stress. This family focused approach to care has contributed to the program’s international reputation and prominence.

All currently available interventional  pediatric cardiac catheterization procedures are performed, including:

How we’re innovating pediatric cardiac catheterization

A number of new heart catheterization devices and techniques have been developed or refined at The Heart Program including:
  • Hybrid procedures (combined with surgery) to approach complex cardiovascular conditions
  • Atrial septal defect closure using the Gore HELEX® Septal Occluder
  • Radiofrequency energy to treat structural heart disease
  • Replacement of pulmonary valves using Medtronic Melody™ transcatheter valve and delivery system
  • Replacement of pulmonary valves using the Edwards Lifesciences SAPIEN™ transcatheter heart valve
Contact The Heart Program
 305-662-8301


Service Locations

Nicklaus Children's Aventura Care Center
20295 NE 29th Place
Suite 300
Aventura, FL 33180

Nicklaus Children's Boynton Beach Care Center
10383 Hagen Ranch Rd.
Suite 200
Boynton Beach, FL 33437

Nicklaus Children's Hospital Main Hospital Campus
3100 SW 62nd Avenue
Miami, FL 33155

Nicklaus Children's Palm Beach Gardens Outpatient Center
11310 Legacy Avenue
Legacy Place
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410

Pediatric Specialists of America Palm City
3228 SW Martin Downs Blvd.
Suite 33
Palm City, FL 34990

Nicklaus Children's Sports Health Center
11521 South Dixie Highway
2nd Floor
Pinecrest, FL 33156

Recognized in Cardiology and Heart Surgery by U.S. News
Optum Center of Excellence
Optum Center of Excellence