In the past 25 or so years, treatment of congenital heart disease has been revolutionized by the introduction of less invasive procedures. When you think of repairing a heart defect, your first thought may be open-heart surgery. Prior to the 1980s, surgery was indeed the only available treatment option. Today, children who are born with heart defects still may undergo surgery, but some defects can be corrected using what are called interventional procedures – use of thin, flexible tubes called catheters to make repairs to the heart and blood vessels.
During an interventional procedure, a cardiologist (called an interventional cardiologist) wwith special training in the use of catheters inserts a catheter through a small puncture site in the skin and advances it through a blood vessel to the heart. Once the catheter is in the desired position, it can be used to take diagnostic images of the heart and blood vessels or deliver treatments. Increasingly, hospitals are equipped to perform hybrid procedures, where heart defects can be corrected through a combination of interventional procedures and surgery.
Learning more about interventional procedures can help you better understand and discuss treatment options with your pediatric interventional cardiologist. Please see More on Pediatric Interventional Treatments below for more detailed information about these procedures.