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Cardiac catheterization is a nonsurgical procedure that is used to diagnose and treat a variety of heart conditions. Diagnostic cardiac catheterizations can provide detailed information about complex cardiac anatomy and heart function. It is a highly technical procedure that can also treat many heart problems that once required surgery.

Cardiac catheterizations are performed in a dedicated room with specialized cameras, using small catheters (soft tubes) that are placed in the patient’s blood vessels and passed into the heart so the doctor can take measurements and pictures. All cardiac catheterizations are performed under anesthesia so the patient is asleep throughout the test. 

About us

In 2014, Cohen Children’s Medical Center opened a $6 million cardiac catheterization laboratory called the Jay Goldman Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. This catheterization lab is one of six in the New York City area (and the only one of its kind on Long Island) dedicated exclusively to diagnosing and treating cardiac conditions in children. The Cohen Children’s Heart Center has one of the highest volume catheterization labs, performing more than 250 cardiac catheterizations each year on newborns, infants, children and young adults.

The catheterization lab also performs Transcatheter Melody Pulmonary Valve Therapy. It is one of four locations in the region (the only one on Long Island) and one of 66 locations nationwide certified to implant the Melody valve.

The catheterization lab offers the lowest-dose radiation commercially available, which has a substantial reduction in radiation exposure for patients and staff.

Cohen Children’s Medical Center is an active participant in the Improving Pediatric and Adult Congenital Treatment (IMPACT) registry, which tracks outcomes of quality measurements in congenital heart defects. The registry assesses the prevalence, demographics, management, and outcomes of patients undergoing diagnostic catheterization and catheter-based interventions for congenital heart disease (CHD). The collection and analysis of nationwide data allows for significant contributions to the knowledge and outcomes associated with congenital heart disease. The data collected facilitates performance measurement, benchmarking, and quality improvement for hospitals caring for patients with congenital heart disease.

Diagnosis and treatment

Cardiac catheterization is used as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool. Through cardiac catheterization pediatric cardiologists can learn more about the structure and function of a child’s heart.

Diagnostic cardiac catheterization is used to:

  • Check for problems with heart valves
  • Determine the need for further treatment or surgery
  • Evaluate congenital heart defects
  • Locate narrowed or blocked blood vessels
  • Measure the blood pressure inside the heart
  • Measure the amount of oxygen in the heart
  • Obtain a sample of heart tissue

Catheterization can also be used to treat heart conditions, including:

  • Blocked blood vessels or heart valves
  • Narrowed blood vessels
  • Holes in the heart that are a result of a congenital heart defect
  • Leaky or narrow heart valves or tubes
  • Closing external vessels (PDA)
  • Irregular heartbeats, called arrhythmia


Cardiac catheterizations are typically safe procedures, especially in comparison with open-heart surgery. Although complications are rare, there are some risks, such as:

  • Bruising or bleeding at the site where the catheter is inserted
  • An allergic reaction to the medications or contrast material
  • Skin reactions (similar to a sunburn) from exposure to X-rays
  • Infection
  • Chest pain
  • Blood clots
  • Heart attack, stroke, or kidney damage

Surgery preparation

Our pediatric cardiologists, anesthesiologists, nurses and technicians, who will care for your child at the cardiac catheterization, are dedicated to caring for pediatric and adult patients with heart disease.

If a child needs a cardiac catheterization, they will be required to come in for testing about one week before the procedure. You and your child will meet with the physician who will be performing this procedure on that day. The physician will explain the procedure in detail, answer all of your questions and obtain your permission for the procedure.

Your child will be examined by the doctor and have multiple tests that day, which will include blood work, a chest radiograph (X-ray), an electrocardiogram and other tests needed before the procedure. You will be given instructions for the day of the procedure by a nurse. Please anticipate spending about four hours in the office on this day, so our staff may get all the information and appropriate testing necessary to provide the best care possible.

Day of procedure

On the day of the test, you will bring your child to Cohen Children’s Medical Center. You will want to make sure to follow the instructions you were given about when your child may last eat prior to the scheduled procedure. Upon arrival, you will take your child to the admitting office, and their staff will accompany your family to the Ambulatory Surgical Unit (ASU), where a nurse will briefly review some history and examine your child. You will meet the anesthesiologist who will be sedating your child for the procedure. If your child is anxious, the anesthesiologist may give them some medicine.

Your child will be asleep throughout the entire procedure. Once they awake, you will meet your child in the recovery room. Depending on the procedure your child is having, they may be required to stay in the hospital for a few hours or overnight. Additional testing may be required after the procedure at the request of your child's cardiologist, including a chest X-ray, an electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram and/or other studies.

Please arrive at the scheduled time, and anticipate spending all day (and possibly overnight) in the hospital to allow our staff to provide your child with optimal care before and after the procedure.

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