As technology advances, implanted devices for heart arrhythmias are becoming increasingly complex. That’s why St. Louis Children’s Hospital has launched a dedicated Pediatric Device Clinic for pediatric patients who have implanted devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators. 

“Over the past several years, the algorithms on devices have become more complicated and the devices are now like sophisticated little computers,” says Jennifer Silva, MD, director of Pediatric Electrophysiology at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “These can be challenging for patients and physicians to manage. We felt this clinic was important so we can involve the electrophysiology team to provide the best individualized care and programming of these complex devices for patients.”

The highly specialized Device Clinic is staffed with electrophysiology physicians and a physician assistant. In addition to Dr. Silva, the Device Clinic electrophysiologists are George Van Hare, MD, and Aarti Dalal, DO. 

St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s arrhythmia program is one of the largest programs in the nation and the largest in the Midwest. As one of only two electrophysiology labs in the country to receive the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) Cardiac Electrophysiology Accreditation, the St. Louis Children’s pediatric arrhythmia program team sees a wide variety of cases from a broad geographic area.

“Our whole team is involved with the care of pediatric patients with devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators,” Dr. Silva explains. “We can offer anticipatory guidance of what the patient will need in six months, one year and even five to 10 years. The clinic allows us to continue the conversation so both kids and families feel more comfortable knowing what’s coming in the future.”

With the addition of the Device Clinic, the electrophysiology team hopes to add value for cardiologists or local physicians in managing the complicated devices for their patients. “We’re here to help our cardiology colleagues provide the best care for kids,” Dr. Silva says. “We recognize the implanted devices are an important piece of a larger puzzle.”

She adds that patients and families are happy to make the trip to St. Louis Children’s to gain a better understanding of the device and their future needs. “Our patients are so grateful to receive the individualized programming of the device and to anticipate what may be coming up in their future.”

Since the clinic opened in October 2019, it has been held twice a month but that frequency could change in the future. “Our goal is to understand what the true needs are of the community and then flex to accommodate those needs,” Dr. Silva says. “My role is to leverage our team to do the best for our patients.”

The Device Clinic formalizes many electrophysiology services already available at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Because of the increasing technological complexity of implanted devices, the timing was right to create this clinic,” Dr. Silva explains. “Our experienced team has the skill set and expertise to do this very well and fill unmet needs to better care for kids.”