Minimally Invasive Treatment for Arrhythmias in Children

NYU Langone experts treat many children who have arrhythmias with minimally invasive procedures. These may include the use of a thin, flexible wire attached to electrodes to deliver heat or cold to destroy excess, or abnormal, tissue. Other procedures involve using a thin tube, called a catheter, to implant devices that regulate heart rhythm.

During these treatments, which are performed using general anesthesia, the doctor threads the wire or catheter through an artery or vein in the leg or neck and into the heart.

NYU Langone pediatric cardiologists often perform a minimally invasive treatment during an electrophysiology study to identify the precise location of the injured tissue causing the arrhythmia. Minimally invasive treatments can also be used in combination with surgical procedures to correct congenital heart problems causing arrhythmias.

Children who have a procedure to implant a heart rhythm device may remain in the hospital overnight for observation. Minimally invasive treatments for arrhythmias rarely have side effects.

Catheter Ablation

Catheter ablation is often used to treat children with a rapid heartbeat, known as tachycardia, who do not respond to treatment with medication. In catheter ablation, the doctor first uses a catheter to stimulate, record, and map the heart’s electrical system. After locating the area that requires treatment, the doctor uses the catheter to deliver energy that eliminates the abnormal tissue by either heating or cooling it.

Following catheter ablation, children usually return home after being monitored for a few hours by our specialists, including pediatric and neonatal cardiac nurses.

Pacemaker

A pacemaker is an implantable device, about the size of two quarters side by side, that contains wires with electrodes at the tips. These wires regulate heart rhythm. Pacemakers are used to treat children with slow heart rates that are caused by damage to the heart’s electrical system.

In newborns who need a pacemaker, the wires are placed outside of the heart until the baby is old enough for a procedure to implant the wires.

Children who have a procedure to implant a pacemaker usually remain in the hospital overnight for observation. Your doctor can tell you when your child may return to normal activities.

Implantable Defibrillator

Implantable defibrillators are used to treat children who have a severe rapid heartbeat and are at increased risk for sudden cardiac arrest, which is when the heart stops pumping.

A defibrillator is a small, battery-powered device that is implanted under the skin on the chest or abdomen, often below the collarbone or below the ribs. The device contains wires with electrodes at the tips that are threaded through the veins or sewn to the heart to continuously monitor heart rhythm. If the device detects an arrhythmia, it sends a powerful electrical shock to reset the heart’s rhythm.

Children who have a procedure to implant a defibrillator may remain in the hospital overnight for observation. Your doctor can explain when your child may return to normal activities.

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