Tests and Procedures
The Heart Station, on the 2nd floor of St. Louis Children's Hospital is responsible for all inpatient and outpatient non-invasive cardiac testing. These tests are used to diagnose and treat children with congenital and acquired heart disease. The Heart Station also provides staff and equipment for all the cardiology testing required during satellite clinic visits.
These are some of the noninvasive and minimally invasive tests and procedures performed by the cardiology team at the St. Louis Children's and Washington University Heart Center:
A chest x-ray gives the cardiologist a picture of the size and shape of your child's heart and indicates the presence or absence of fluid in the lungs. Different views are common, and may include the front and side of the child, standing or lying down.
An EKG measures electrical activity in the heart, the heart's rate and rhythm, any damage to the heart muscle and any unusual events in the conduction system. The test takes about 15 minutes and requires only that several wired patches be placed on the chest, arms and legs.
An echocardiography enables the cardiologist to see details of the heart structure from outside the body and helps determine the need for further evaluation or treatment.
The test lasts about 30 to 45 minutes. During the test, all the child will feel is the transducer touching his or her chest. A transducer is a flat-bottomed instrument, about six-inches long, that moves smoothly along the chest. A clear gel will be applied to the chest to help the transducer move smoothly.
Sedation is sometime necessary to ensure good pictures. Your child may be given something to drink that will help him or her go into a light sleep.
A Holter monitor measures heart rate and rhythm for a 12- to 24-hour period. It is commonly worn by a patient before and after cardiac surgery, so the doctor can compare before and after information on the heart's electrical activity.
A Holter monitor is a box carried on a shoulder strap with wires that are painlessly connected to the chest with patches. The patient's nurse or family keeps a diary of the child's activities, such as walking, eating and crying, and the time they occur. The doctor uses this information to see how the activities affect heart rate and rhythms.
Cardiac catheterization is a procedure performed by inserting a long, thin tube - a catheter - into an artery and vein and advancing it to the heart.
Electrophysiology Study (EPS)
An EPS measures the heart's electrical system to help assess arrhythmias, which are abnormal heart rhythms.
An EPS is similar to a cardiac catheterization. It is performed by inserting catheters into veins and advancing these into the heart. The movement and location of the catheter are shown to the doctor by X-rays displayed on a television screen. Electrical wires with sensors on the ends are passed through veins to certain areas of the heart.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
A MRI provides a detailed view of the heart. The MRI equipment creates a large magnetic field that causes atoms in the body's tissue to emit radio waves that are received by an antenna. A computer converts the signals into visible images of the heart and arteries.
During this test, your child will lie on a sliding table that goes inside a large tube. Except for EKG leads attached to the child's chest with adhesive, nothing touches the child, and the child will not feel any sensations. The exam lasts about one hour.
Cryoablation -- A unique alternative in treating arrhythmias
Cryoablation or CryoTherapy is a minimally invasive procedure that treats certain arrhythmias by using a freezing technique to restore normal electrical conduction to heart pathways, in order to regain control of the heart’s rhythm. Because of the way this technology freezes cells rather than cauterizing them with heat as in the conventional RF treatment, it may offer a safer and more effective option when treating certain arrhythmias and working with heart tissue.
Melody Valve - Jordan needed a valve replacement because a heart defect left him with no connection between the heart and lungs.
St. Louis Children's Hospital is one of a handful of pediatric centers using an innovative kind of heart conduit called a Melody valve. The valve allows physicians to repair or replace existing devices, which in turn helps delay or prevent the need for open-heart surgery. The Melody valve is able to be implanted with a heart catheter, rather than through open-heart surgery.