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What to Expect - Cardiac Catheterization

A cardiac catheterization (sometimes called a cardiac cath or heart cath) is a procedure that allows your child’s care team to better understand the structure and function of your child’s heart.

During the procedure, a specialist called an interventional cardiologist will insert a thin, flexible tube (catheter) into your child’s vein/artery, usually through the groin or neck. They can then pass small instruments through the tube to evaluate (and sometimes, treat) different problems with your child’s heart. In addition to the diagnostic portion of the cath, certain procedures may also be performed during the catheterization.

Pre-admission testing (PAT)

If your child needs a heart catheterization, you will likely have a pre-admission testing appointment the week before your procedure. Pre-admission testing for a heart catheterization usually includes:

  • A thorough medical history and physical exam by our nurse practitioner team

  • Any lab work your doctor has requested, such as blood tests

  • Any imaging studies your doctor has requested, such as a chest x-ray, echocardiogram, ultrasound, etc.

  • Education about the procedure, including what to expect before, during and after the catheterization

Catheterization day

The day of the procedure, you will arrive to Same Day Surgery (SDS) where your child will be checked in and placed with you in a private room. You will meet with your interventional cardiologist to discuss the procedure and answer any questions you have. You will also meet with the anesthesiologist who will be caring for your child.

The length of the procedure will depend on what your child needs. Your cardiologist and PAT Team will be able to better prepare you, but it is likely your child will be away from you for 2-4 hours.

During the catheterization, your child’s nursing team will keep you updated by phone throughout the procedure. In addition to these personal updates, the EASE app provides secure, live text message updates from your child’s care team during their procedure. This allows you and any family members or friends that you designate to hear how your child is doing during the catheterization and provides peace of mind while you’re in the waiting room.

After the procedure, your interventional cardiologist will meet with you to discuss the findings and any treatments performed during the catheterization. Many children can go home the same day or the following morning after the procedure. Before you leave, your care team will go over instructions for caring for your child while they recover.

For more information about what to expect the day of your child’s procedure, visit our Same Day Surgery section.

Planning for Surgery

From free valet parking at the front door to personalized follow-up care during your child’s recovery, we want every aspect of your experience at Children’s Mercy to be beyond your expectations.

Read about how to prepare your child for scheduled surgery, what to expect when you arrive, and resources available while you’re here.

Heart Center - Follow up care

After the procedure, your child’s care team will continue to see them in our Cardiology clinic for follow-up care. We will remain with you every step of the way.