CICU nurses Janet Prozzillo, nurse manager, and Barb Sands, cardiac care coordinator, look after one of our infant patients.
Using the very latest, most advanced technologies, the Nemours Cardiac Center specializes in early detection and repair so that your child can have the healthiest future possible.
We offer a full range of diagnostic tests which, depending on your child’s age and condition, may include:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG): a test that can detect problems with the electrical activity of your child’s heart
- Holter monitoring: a portable version of an EKG that allows continuous monitoring of the electrical activity of your child’s cardiovascular system for at least 24 hours
- Echocardiogram: our most frequently used imaging tool, used in our echocardiography lab, which is accredited by the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Echocardiography Laboratories (the country’s highest level of achievement in the specialty)
- Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and cardiovascular computed tomography (CT) scans of the heart: imaging tools that allow us to get a glimpse of the interior structure of your child’s heart
- Exercise stress testing: a screening tool used to test the effect of exercise on the heart
Diagnosing Fetal Conditions
Many children with critical heart disease can be diagnosed before birth (in utero) or soon after. Our cardiologists perform in-depth cardiac ultrasounds (fetal echocardiography or “fetal echo"), which allows us to view the structure, function, and rhythm of a baby’s heart while still in the mother’s womb — as early as the 18th week.
If we detect a fetal heart condition during pregnancy, our Nemours Cardiac Center’s fetal cardiology team will work together with your obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) or maternal-fetal specialist (also called perinatologist, a board-certified obstetrician with special training in high-risk pregnancies). We’ll educate you about your baby’s condition and help you plan for care that might be required after birth.
State-of-the-Art Care & Technology
Francine Holt, RN, keeps an eye on Aariyah in our CICU.
Our cardiac team provides first-class open-heart surgery, as well as advanced non-surgical approaches like cardiac catheterization (when a thin plastic, flexible tube, called a “catheter,” is inserted into a blood vessel in the leg that leads to the heart). Cardiac catheterization might be used for the diagnosis or treatment of your child’s heart condition. If your child needs a catheterization, the procedure can be performed by one of our cardiologists at any time of the day or night in our state-of-the-art digital cardiac catheterization suite.
Our heart surgeons are at the very forefront of pediatric cardiology, which contributes to the ongoing advances in pediatric heart surgery. But we always strive to minimize the number of operations our young patients need. The techniques and advances we use can help your little one avoid the trauma and recovery time of open-heart surgery.
In some complex cases, members of our team work together to perform procedures like open-heart surgery and interventional catheterization, which is sometimes called “therapeutic catheterization,” in the same setting. By offering this kind of combined treatment option (or “hybrid procedure”), we’re improving the outlook for scores of children, all with less discomfort, faster recovery time, and shorter hospital stays. And we’re proud to be one of only a mere handful of centers in the United States where these combo treatment capabilities are available.
At the Nemours Cardiac Center, our team works together to provide expert, comprehensive care for children with end-stage heart disease. Since some children can’t be treated successfully with medication or surgery, heart transplantation might be the answer. Our surgeons are among the best in pediatric and infant heart transplant procedures if your child needs a new heart.
Our pediatric heart transplant program performed the first heart transplant in the state of Delaware. Our specialists from cardiology and cardiac surgery lead a team of advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians (nutritionists), social workers, and child life specialists to provide heart transplant care for children and their families before, during, and after the surgery.
Nemours also has an active Mechanical Circulatory Support Program that provides Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (or ECMO), a system that temporarily acts as a child’s heart and lungs. We also offer Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD), which are mechanical pumps that take over the work of the damaged chamber (ventricle) of the heart. This includes the Berlin Heart (a pump device that comes in various sizes to accommodate children). These assistive devices are used for patients who require “artificial” heart support while waiting for a heart transplant or for their own heart problems to improve.
About two-thirds of children with heart disease have a “congenital” heart defect, or “congenital heart disease,” which is when a baby is born with a heart that didn’t develop normally or completely in the early weeks of pregnancy. But other kids may have something called an “acquired” heart condition, which is when a heart problem develops at some point between infancy and adolescence.
Finding out that your child has a congenital heart defect can be frightening. You’re probably worried, stressed, and filled with questions about what the diagnosis really means. But you’re not alone; congenital heart disease is actually fairly common. In fact, more than 35,000 babies in the United States are born with a heart disease each year.
To ease some of your concerns and understand what might be involved with your child’s condition and treatment, see:
- Congenital Heart Defects
- Aortic Stenosis
- Atrial Septal Defects
- Coarctation of the Aorta
- Complete Common Atrioventricular Canal Defect
- Ebstein's Anomaly
- Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
- Interrupted Aortic Arch
- Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)
- Pulmonary Artery Sling
- Pulmonary Stenosis
- Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF)
- Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return
- Transposition of the Great Arteries
- Tricuspid Atresia
- Truncus Arteriosus
- Ventricular Septal Defects
Inspiring Stories from Our Patients and Families
The following are links to common cardiology topics found on KidsHealth.org — the #1 most-visited health site for children in the world. Created by the experts at Nemours, this is information and insights that you can trust.