Your Child’s Heart Center Visit

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Cardiac Center, Delaware Valley

What to Expect When You Come Here

The Cardiac Center at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware is designed so your child and family have everything you need, close-by and in one place.

What truly sets us apart is our personal approach to care. We develop strong bonds with patients and families. We walk you through every step, from diagnosis through treatment and beyond.

If it’s your first time here, here’s what you can expect.

Your Child’s First Cardiology Appointment

Before your child meets with our cardiology team, they’ll need an electrocardiogram (EKG) and an echocardiogram (also called an echo). When you call, we’ll schedule your child’s tests and their first appointment. After your visit, the cardiologist may recommend more tests.

We work to schedule everything within a few days of your first call. Our cardiology team sees patients at the hospital and at many satellite offices throughout the Delaware Valley/Greater Philadelphia. Depending on where you live, we may see you in an office closer to home.

What to Expect for Special Visits 

If your child is coming in for a test or procedure, they may feel better knowing what to expect. Here you can find out what happens, watch videos and explore trusted medical information from Nemours KidsHealth®.

An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) measures and records your child’s heart activity. It’s quick and painless.

Here's What Happens

  • Small stickers, or electrodes, are placed on the skin.
  • The electrodes are attached to a machine that measures the heart’s rhythm.
  • The test only takes a few minutes.
  • Your child needs an EKG before their first cardiology appointment with us.

Getting an EKG

See what to expect with your child’s EKG.

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An echocardiogram, or “echo,” is an ultrasound of the heart. It uses a wand, or transducer, that detects soundwaves to make an image. There are different types of echos. The transthoracic echo, or TTE is the most common.

Here's What Happens

  • For a TTE echo, the wand is passed lightly on the outside of the body on the chest.
  • The test can take 30 minutes to an hour to complete.
  • If you think your child needs sedation to stay still, please let us know before your appointment. Sedation requires special fasting instructions and recovery time.

Getting an Echo

An echocardiogram — or “echo” for short — is a test that takes pictures of your heart. Watch what happens.

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Advanced imaging like CT (computed tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) produces detailed pictures of the heart and blood vessels from outside of the body.

Here's What Happens

  • Your child will lay on a table while the machine takes pictures.  
  • A contrast dye may be injected to show the blood vessels more clearly. This is given in a vein (IV, or intravenously).
  • A CT scan takes about an hour and an MRI can take up to two hours.
  • Child Life teams are here to help your child relax. If you think your child needs sedation, please let us know before your appointment.
  • Sedation will require special fasting instructions and recovery time.

Learn More

CT Scan: Chest from Nemours KidsHealth

Getting an MRI from Nemours KidsHealth

Cardiac Imaging at Nemours

Exercise testing, or an exercise stress test, involves monitoring how your child’s heart works while using a treadmill or stationary bike. It’s combined with an electrocardiogram (EKG) and sometimes an echocardiogram and other tests.

Here's What Happens

  • EKG stickers, or electrodes, are placed on the chest. A blood pressure cuff is placed on the arm.
  • Your child will exercise for about 10 to 15 minutes or until peak exhaustion. We’ll monitor your child’s heart.
  • If needed, we may measure other things during or after the test, like lung or breathing function.
  • Expect the appointment to last 45 minutes to an hour

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Cardiac Exercise Program at Nemours

A fetal echocardiogram, or “fetal echo,” takes pictures of a baby’s heart while still in the womb. It’s an ultrasound that involves a wand, or transducer, that uses soundwaves to create images.

Here's What Happens

  • The sonographer passes the wand on the outside of your belly to get images of the baby’s heart at different angles.
  • This test is a lot like the ultrasound you have at your OB/GYN office.
  • The test could take 30 minutes to two hours depending on the baby’s position and what we need.

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Fetal Echocardiogram from Nemours KidsHealth

Fetal Heart Program at Nemours

Cardiac catheterization uses thin tubes (catheters) threaded through blood vessels to diagnose and even treat certain heart conditions. Specialists can deliver many different treatments using a catheter. Catheterization is performed in a special lab.

Here's What Happens

  • Your child will be sedated. This involves special fasting instructions and recovery time.
  • A catheter is inserted through a vein or artery, most often in the groin.
  • The procedure involves a special dye and a moving X-ray called fluoroscopy to guide the work.
  • Generally, heart catheterizations can take two to four hours.
  • Most kids go home the same day.

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Catheterization at Nemours KidsHealth

Catheterization/Interventional Cardiology at Nemours

An electrophysiology study, or EP study, maps the heart’s electrical activity using a thin tube inserted through a blood vessel to the heart called a catheter. EP studies diagnose and even treat heart rhythm problems called arrhythmias. The procedure is performed in a special lab.

Here's What Happens

  • Your child may be sedated or given general anesthesia. This involves special fasting instructions and recovery time.
  • A catheter is inserted through a vein or artery, most often in the groin. Once in place, the specialist delivers electric pulses to the heart to stimulate it.
  • The response pinpoints the problem area. Sometimes your child’s specialist can repair the problem at the same time.
  • EP studies can take two to four hours, or longer if treatment is needed.
  • Most kids will stay overnight at the hospital.

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Arrhythmias from Nemours KidsHealth

Electrophysiology & Arrhythmia Program at Nemours

Heart, airway or chest surgery can be routine, or extremely complex. Many procedures can be performed minimally invasively, using smaller cuts than with open heart surgery. We’ll guide you through your child’s unique situation.

Here's What Happens

  • Before surgery, your child will have pre-surgical testing. You’ll meet the surgeon to talk about the procedure.
  • On the day of surgery, you’ll meet with your child’s cardiac anesthesiologist who will ask questions and go over what they do during surgery. 
  • During surgery, you’ll wait in our special cardiac center waiting rooms. A nurse will keep you updated at regular times.
  • After surgery, your child will recover in the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU). Depending on your child’s age, type of surgery and condition, they could be here a few days to a week. From the CICU, your child will go to our special cardiac inpatient unit until discharge.
  • Before going home, your child may have cardiac rehabilitation which can include physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy, neurodevelopmental therapy and more.
  • Once discharged, you’ll see your child’s pediatric cardiologist who will manage recovery and schedule any follow-up tests or visits.

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Fontan Procedure from Nemours KidsHealth

Glenn Procedure from Nemours KidsHealth

Norwood Procedure from Nemours KidsHealth

Cardiothoracic Surgery at Nemours

Cardiac Critical Care at Nemours

Cardiac Anesthesiology at Nemours

Our heart center includes a special inpatient unit just for heart and vascular patients. It’s staffed by highly trained cardiac specialists and nurses. We have private rooms and bathrooms, and plenty of space for you to stay with your child.

We give you the tools and confidence to care for your child when you go home. We’ll teach you how to give medicine, use monitors and devices, and care for wounds. For 12 to 24 hours before discharge, you’ll help care for your child. We’ll watch you closely to make sure you feel comfortable.

We also want your child to have the best recovery possible. That’s why we regularly meet with families to understand problems they face when they go home, and we try to help. We adapt our care to make life a little easier.

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Staying Overnight at the Hosptial from Nemours KidsHealth

Inpatient Heart Care at Nemours

Our team is finding new and innovative ways to help kids with heart and vascular conditions live, and live better. What we learn directly guides our care. You can enroll your child in a clinical trial or a registry.

  • A clinical trial tests a treatment, like a drug, therapy or surgery. Your child participates for a certain length of time.
  • During a clinical trial, our researchers may work with your child’s regular doctors. You may need to come in for tests or evaluations at certain times. Some trials will pay you for your participation.
  • A registry collects medical information about treatments. Researchers use patterns in the data to find the most effective treatments in different situations.
  • If your child participates in a registry, all you do is agree to share a medical summary. Your child’s name is not included.

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Clinical Trials from Nemours KidsHealth

Clinical Trials at Nemours

Young girl holds up a paper cut-out of a heart to frame her laughing face.

More About Your Child’s Heart from KidsHealth

Nemours KidsHealth is one of the world’s most visited websites for pediatric health information. We offer parent- and kid-friendly information and videos about heart conditions, tests and treatments. We also provide tips for improving your family’s heart health.