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New Options for Treating Heart Defects

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Director of Children's Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories, Dr. Tom Jones is internationally renowned for pioneering new devices

Director of Children's Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories, Dr. Tom Jones is internationally renowned for pioneering new devices.

Dramatic innovations in cardiac catheterization mean less invasive procedures for Children with heart problems. Children’s interventional cardiologists are helping show the way. 

In 1999, 10% of heart surgeries at Seattle Children’s were for atrial septal defects — a hole in the heart. By 2003, only 1% of all cardiac surgeries were for this defect. The rest were performed as outpatient procedures in the cardiac catheterization laboratory.

With cardiac catheterization, doctors use the bloodstream to get to the heart.

Doctors make an incision in a vein near the groin, then insert a flexible hollow tube called a catheter. After navigating it through the veins to the heart, they then repair the heart from the inside. The alternative is open-heart surgery.

“Procedures in the cardiac catheterization laboratory are much less invasive than surgery,” explains Dr. Troy Johnston, assistant director, Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. “The children experience less pain, have a shorter recovery time and can go home on the same day. There’s less potential for risk and discomfort, and it’s much easier for the patients and their families.”

“The large number of patients we treat —500 to 600 children a year — gives us a vast amount of experience in dealing with a wide variety of heart problems,” says Dr. Tom Jones, an internationally respected expert and director of Children’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory.

“Our highly specialized team includes interventional cardiologists, an electrophysiologist, nursing staff, radiology technicians and anesthesiologists who are dedicated to this work full-time. We work very well together and anticipate each other’s moves — that’s the secret to our success.”

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