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CHOC'S FEBRUARY HEALTH TIPS
February 07, 2003

Images so clear, a baby’s heart problem can be diagnosed before birth. Minimally invasive laboratory procedures that can close a hole in a child’s heart or open a narrowed artery. New surgical techniques that can safely correct heart conditions in the youngest of children, even premature infants.

In honor of National Heart Month, here’s a closer look at a few exciting advances in pediatric cardiology:

Fetal Echocardiography

Advances in fetal echocardiography, a non-invasive imaging procedure similar to ultrasound, have made it possible to diagnose and begin treatment planning for heart problems even before a child is born.

“By knowing about a baby’s heart condition in advance, our team can attend the birth and begin treatment immediately, if necessary,” says Mark S. Bleiweis, M.D., medical director of The CHOC Heart Institute. “Also, this knowledge gives us the opportunity to help prepare and counsel the family in advance.”

Interventional Cardiology

Interventional cardiology has literally taken certain heart procedures out of the operating room and into the laboratory. Inside the CHOC Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, interventional cardiologists are able to perform intricate, corrective procedures from within a patient’s heart by using catheters equipped with a small video camera and sophisticated tools threaded into position through the child’s arteries. The camera provides highly magnified images on a video screen, and the use of catheters eliminates the need for a large incision.

In many cases, this condition may now be safely and effectively closed by using interventional cardiology techniques. We may also insert a stent, a wire-mesh tube, into arteries that have become narrowed or weakened this way. These procedures are less invasive than conventional surgery and have a much quicker recovery time.

Advances In Cardiac Surgery

Dr. Bleiweis is particularly excited about recent advancements in surgical techniques that have made it possible to correct pediatric heart conditions at younger ages.

“It used to be that cardiac surgeons could not actually correct certain problems until the child had grown to a certain size. In the meantime, we could only do palliative procedures to tide the child over,” he says. “Now, we may safely perform very complex procedures on even newborns and premature babies. My philosophy is to do as much as possible — as early as possible.”

The CHOC Heart Institute includes cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, cardiac nurses, social workers and child life specialists. For more information, to schedule an interview, or to follow a patient in surgery, please contact CHOC Public Relations.

About CHOC Children's: Named one of the best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report (2013-2014) and a 2013 Leapfrog Top Hospital, CHOC Children's is exclusively committed to the health and well-being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach and research that brings advanced treatment to pediatric patients. Affiliated with the University of California, Irvine, CHOC’s regional healthcare network includes two state-of-the-art hospitals in Orange and Mission Viejo, several primary and specialty care clinics, a pediatric residency program, and four centers of excellence - The CHOC Children’s Heart, Neuroscience, Orthopaedic and Hyundai Cancer Institutes.

CHOC earned the Gold Level CAPE Award from the California Council of Excellence, the only children’s hospital in California to ever earn this distinction, and was awarded Magnet designation, the highest honor bestowed to hospitals for nursing excellence.  Recognized for extraordinary commitment to high-quality critical care standards, CHOC’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is the first in the United States to earn the Pediatric Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence.

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Media Contact:
Susan Thomas, Public Relations Specialist
phone: (714) 532-8812
email: sthomas@choc.org

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