Evaluation and Treatment

A Team Approach to Evaluation and Treatment

If you're facing the possibility of a problem with your child's heart, you'll be meeting with many specialists — all of whom will work as a team to make sure your child receives the best of care. As parents, you are important members of that team, and we want you to feel comfortable with the rest of your child's team. That means getting to know a little more about them and understanding what role they'll have in your child's care.

Who's Who in Pediatric Heart Care

Your child's specific condition will determine which of our heart experts are part of their evaluation and treatment team and may include:

  • Primary Care Physician — This is the doctor your child sees first when ill, and visits regularly for check-ups. Primary care physicians provide a broad spectrum of health services, and are a key member of any specialty care a child may need, including cardiac care.
  • Pediatric Cardiologist — The pediatric cardiologist is a medical specialist who provides comprehensive care to patients from before birth to young adulthood, selecting and performing tests and evaluating the structural and functional performance of the heart, lungs and blood vessels.
  • Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon — The pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon is skilled in correcting both congenital and acquired heart problems in children.
  • Pediatric Anesthesiologist — This medical specialist is skilled in providing sedation, anesthesia and analgesic services for children undergoing diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
  • Pediatric Cardiac Interventionist — Pediatric cardiac interventionists use catheter-based techniques to diagnose and treat heart disease in children.
  • Cardiology Nurse — The cardiology nurse coordinates and implements the doctor's orders, teaches patients and their families, and offers emotional support.
  • Pediatric Echotechnician — Echotechnicians use ultrasound to view internal structures of the heart. They measure heart wall thickness, chamber sizes and blood flow velocities. They calculate data, such as cardiac physiology and valve areas. They also review the test results with an interpreting physician, usually the child's cardiologist.
  • Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Physician Assistant — The physician assistant (PA) is a masters-level trained professional who assists the heart surgeon during the operation. The PA is skilled in surgical techniques, is able to perform pre- and postoperative care, and is able to perform special procedures.
  • Pediatric Intensivist — Also known as a pediatric critical care specialist, pediatric intensivists are physicians with advanced training in caring for children in an unstable critical condition.
  • Pediatric Cardiac Perfusionist — Perfusionists lead the selection, setup and operation of the heart-lung machine and any other equipment that is used to temporarily support a child's respiratory or circulatory functions.
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse — PICU nurses have been trained to specialize in the care of critically ill children recovering from heart surgery.
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Respiratory Therapist — These medical professionals are called upon to provide respiratory care, from oxygen therapy to breathing treatments. They also monitor ventilator functions.
  • OR Nursing Team — These specially trained registered nurses assist the heart surgeon during the operation.
  • Pediatric Pharmacist — Pediatric pharmacists are uniquely qualified to dispense medications for children.

Other members of your child's care team may include:

  • Child Life Specialist — Child life specialists provide a variety of activities to promote normal child development, as well as care for the emotional needs of children and their families. Special care is given to help children understand and cope with illness and their hospital experience. These specially trained individuals use medical play and age-appropriate language to help children deal with their fears and anxieties. They're also a great resource for parents.
  • Social Worker — Social workers provide counseling and family support, as well as information about insurance coverage and financial options. If you need help arranging housing while your child undergoes cardiac evaluation, the social worker can provide you with many helpful resources.