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Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization and Electrophysiology Studies

Pediatric Heart Care

Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization and Electrophysiology Studies

Contact Information

For Patients

(608) 263-6420

For Referring Physicians

(608) 263-6796

(800) 472-0111



Video icon: Catheterization and electrophysiology procedures Cardiac Catheterization and Electrophysiology Procedures


Additional Resources

Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization (pdf)

Adult Cardiac Catheterization (pdf)

Electrophysiology Studies with Ablation (pdf)

Pediatric Imaging

The Pediatric Heart Program is proud to join the tradition of outstanding clinical programs that you expect from University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics and American Family Children's Hospital.

Staff of the American Family Children's Hospital Pediatric Cardiology Clinic specialize in the care of children and young adults with heart-related conditions. During a cardiac catheterization, parents can be with their child through much of the process. Here are some frequently asked questions to help parents:

Why does your child need a cardiac catheterization?

A cardiac catheterization is a procedure used to both diagnose and treat congenital heart disease. It provides information used to decide if there is a need for medicines or surgery. Interventions can also be done during a cardiac catheterization to treat problems that may have needed surgery. The cardiologist doing the procedure will go over the plan in detail and answer any questions you may have. If you are not sure about what is going to happen during the catheterization, please ask questions. It is our job to make sure you are comfortable with the care plan for your child before the procedure.

What is the Cath Lab?

Also known as the Catheterization Lab, it is a place where cardiac catheterizations are performed.

How is a catheterization done?

A cardiac catheterization is a procedure which involves threading a thin flexible tube (catheter) through the arteries and veins of the heart and lungs, often from the groin (see illustration). With the use of X-ray and contrast dye, the procedure team can define structure and function of the heart and lungs. This information is then used to determine the best therapies for treating congenital heart disease. We call that a diagnostic catheterization. If the doctor is also going to treat a type of congenital heart disease during the procedure, it is called an interventional catheterization. A number of interventions can be performed in the cath lab.

Is it painful?

Most cardiac catheterizations done in children with congenital heart disease are performed with general anesthesia. You will meet with a dedicated pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist before the procedure who will review your child’s medical history to make sure anesthesia is safe and effective. The anesthesiologist will monitor your child during the entire procedure. Your child will sleep through the procedure without pain or anxiety. After the procedure, there may be slight discomfort at the insertion sites. Pain medicines are given as needed. Pain management is a priority at American Family Children’s Hospital, and you can expect pain to be treated and controlled during the hospital stay. We also have a dedicated team of Child Life specialists experienced in supporting and distracting children during hospital visits. If support from a Child Life specialist would be helpful for your child, please let us know so it can be arranged ahead of time.

How long does a catheterization take?

Usually, there is at least a 2- to 3-hour wait from the time your child leaves for the procedure until you are reunited in the recovery area or in an inpatient room at American Family Children's Hospital. The cath lab team, along with the recovery room or inpatient nurse, will let you know where to wait and when you can come into the room, once your child is settled after the procedure.

Where do I wait during the procedure?

At the start of the catheterization, staff will bring family members and guests to the Cath Lab Waiting Room. Cath lab staff will be available during this time to assist you, and food and restrooms are either in or near these areas while you wait. During the procedure, cath lab team members will give you frequent updates about the progress of the catheterization.

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