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Duke Medicine: Advances in cardiology for kids

Posted January 9, 2012

Not very long ago children with congenital heart disease had few treatment options. Thankfully, that is no longer the case.

Duke pediatric cardiologist Gregory A. Fleming explains exciting research in interventional cardiology and how that translates to treatments for children.

Diagnostic cardiac catheterization is a procedure in which small, flexible catheters are inserted through veins or arteries into the heart to measure oxygen levels and pressures in chambers of the heart as well as inject a special dye into the heart to visualize the structures of the heart under x-ray (fluoroscopy).

The purpose of a diagnostic catheterization is to obtain information to help guide further treatment.

Interventional cardiology refers to interventions performed by a cardiologist during a cardiac catheterization procedure to fix or stabilize certain problems within the heart or within blood vessels of the heart.

Interventions are commonly performed on adults with blockage of the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle with oxygen) to prevent heart attacks. These interventions usually consist of dilating the coronary arteries with special balloon catheters and sometimes placing a metal stent into the narrowed portion of the coronary artery.

Interventions in children are usually different than those performed in adults. In children, many different types of interventions are performed to fix or stabilize malformations or birth defects of the heart that can occur during development of the heart.

Numerous devices have been specially engineered to close abnormal blood vessel connections and abnormal holes between chambers of the heart. These devices are released into the heart through the catheters that are inserted into the veins and arteries.

Learn more about the applications in the full post on Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor, offers health tips and information every Tuesday.


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