If your child was diagnosed with an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia), it’s important that he or she be examined by a pediatric electrophysiologist, a physician who specializes in caring for children who have heart rhythm disorders.
At the Center for Congenital and Structural Heart Disease at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, our team of cardiologists can diagnose children with abnormal heart rhythms and provide invasive and noninvasive therapy to treat these abnormalities.
At the center, our pediatric heart specialists provide the following electrophysiology tests:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG): A common test where electrodes are placed over the chest and limbs to record the electrical activity of the heart and record it graphically, e.g., tracing lines on paper. These graphic recordings can then be interpreted by cardiologists to determine the heart rhythm and any abnormalities of the heartbeat.
- Holter monitoring: Holter monitoring is a recording of the electrical activity of the heart over a period of 24 to 48 hours. Patient wears a portable electrocardiography recording heart rate and rhythm.
- Event recording. Event recording is similar to Holter monitoring, except that the patient only uses the device when symptoms occur, this allows patients to wear it for a month or two.
- Transesophageal electrophysiology studies (TEP) : TEP is used to record the heart’s electrical activity through a wire placed in the esophagus (swallowing tube), which is placed close to the heart. In addition to obtaining recordings, treatment of abnormal heart rhythms can be delivered through electrical impulses delivered through a pacemaker.
- Tilt table testing: A special table is used to place patients in different positions while monitoring heart rate and blood pressure to diagnose cases of loss of consciousness occurring when patients stand up suddenly, or after standing for a while. Diagnosing this illness allows cardiologists to provide targeted treatment.
- Intracardiac electrophysiology studies (EPS): Pediatric cardiologists can use special wire-like instruments which are inserted in blood vessels and maneuvered to enter the heart to record the pattern of electrical conduction within the heart. Abnormal electrical conduction can be treated by delivering radiofrequency waves that destroy abnormal tissues.
- Radiofrequency catheter ablation: Some types of arrhythmias, such as supraventricular tachycardia, can be cured with catheters that deliver radiofrequency waves that destroy abnormal tissue causing abnormal heart beating ablation. In this procedure, a thin catheter is maneuvered into a blood vessel in the groin, and then into the heart. The tip of the catheter is equipped with a special device that emits high frequency radio waves that heat the abnormal heart tissue until it is destroyed. In most cases, the child will no longer need to take arrhythmia medication after this procedure.
- Pacemakers: Pacemakers are battery-powered devices which monitor heart rate and generate electrical impulses to stimulate the heart to beat if the rate is too slow. Today’s pacemakers are incredibly small — about the size of a silver dollar. The pacemaker is implanted under the skin near the collarbone or below the ribs.
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD): ICDs are similar to pacemakers, but they are capable of treating both slow and fast heart rhythms. Most often, ICDs are prescribed for dangerously fast heart rhythms. Like pacemakers, ICDs are implanted under the skin.
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