Cardiology - Patient Care and Treatment

Cardiology - Patient Care and Treatment

Learn about diagnosis and treatments for children’s heart problems at Penn State Children’s Heart Group

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Diagnosing heart defects

About 1 percent of children in the U.S. are born with a congenital (present at birth) heart defect. Only 15 percent of these cases are detected during pregnancy. At Penn State Children’s Heart Group, our goal is to diagnose heart problems before a baby is born.

We work with obstetricians (pregnancy and baby doctors) and maternal fetal medicine physicians (high-risk pregnancy doctors) in central Pennsylvania to perform fetal echocardiograms (at select locations). This test allows doctors to see your unborn child’s heart while still in the womb.

Identifying and managing heart problems before a baby’s birth helps our doctors and families develop a treatment plan together. This prepares everyone for the newborn period and beyond.

We also offer diagnostic tools to test for heart problems after a baby has been born, including:

  • Electrocardiograms (EKGs)
  • Holter monitor studies
  • Transthoracic echocardiograms
  • 3-D echocardiograms
  • Stress tests
  • Tilt-table tests
  • Stress echocardiograms
  • Transesophageal echocardiograms (intra-operative diagnosis, guidance and monitoring)
  • Cardiac MRIs
  • CT scans

Treating and managing heart problems in children

Hospital-based services

  • Surgery – when surgery is required to treat your child’s heart disease, our doctors work closely with our pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons (chest, heart and lung surgeons) to provide care. The Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery Program at Penn State Children’s Hospital has excellent results. Our patients have lower complication and mortality (death) rates than the national averages, according to annual data reported by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.
  • Catheter-based treatments (interventional cardiology) – many heart treatments can be performed without surgery by using a catheter, a thin, flexible tube inserted through a blood vessel. Procedures we offer children include balloon dilations, device closures, coil embolization and valve implants.
  • Heart rhythm disorder treatment (electrophysiology) – our pediatric electrophysiologists diagnose and treat heart rhythm disorders in children. Treatments we provide include implanting devices such as pacemakers, defibrillators and loop recorders. We also perform catheter ablation to correct electrical pathways in the heart.

Outpatient services

  • General pediatric cardiology – our pediatric cardiologists evaluate and treat children with heart diseases. Our services are coordinated through our main office in Harrisburg, PA. We also have 21 outreach clinics throughout central Pennsylvania.
  • Cardiology clinics at Milton Hershey School – Penn State Children’s Heart Group provides monthly on-site heart care to the students at Milton Hershey School, a cost-free, private school for low-income children in Hershey, PA.
  • Weight Management Clinic – we help children who are overweight or obese through medical management, dietary counseling and psychological counseling. Our multidisciplinary team is made up of doctors, advanced practice clinicians and psychologists.
  • Muscular Dystrophy Clinic – Penn State Children’s Hospital offers care for kids with heart abnormalities associated with muscular dystrophy.
  • Post-Operative Neurodevelopment Clinic – we diagnose and treat learning disabilities and behavioral problems in children who have had open heart surgery. The Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Clinic works together with Penn State Developmental Pediatricians. Services we provide include speech therapy, psychometric testing, feeding therapy, nutrition counseling, hearing testing and mental health counseling.