Research at the Center for Congenital and Structural Heart Diseases is a crucial part of the center’s mission. Numerous research projects are under way, such as evaluation of the latest devices for nonsurgical repair of congenital heart anomalies, including septal defect occlusion devices and transcatheter valve implantation. These studies evaluate new methods in treating heart diseases without surgery, or with minimal surgical interventions.
In the past, many cardiac defects had to be repaired in the operating room. This entailed opening the chest and stopping the circulatory system while allowing a heart lung machine pump blood to the body; this allowed surgeons to correct cardiac defects, then close the chest again. Such procedures were necessary, but significantly invasive, carrying risks and requiring prolonged hospitalization. Recently, an increasing number of cardiac defects, such as narrowing of cardiac valves and vessels and holes in the walls of the heart can be corrected through a cardiac catheterization. In these procedures, a catheter (a spaghetti-like plastic tube) is inserted through a blood vessel in the groin or neck and advanced to the heart. Once inside the heart occlusive devices (plugs) can be extruded to close any defect. Similarly, these catheters may have inflatable balloons at the tip to enlarge tight valves or vessels.
Many cardiac centers around the country perform these procedures; however, only a few have the expertise to perform cutting-edge procedures delivering excellent results in very difficult cases. The Center for Congenital and Structural Heart Disease is one such center. In Chicago, our team hosts the most notable experts in this field and is capable of performing such procedures with great success.
Other areas of research include 3D echocardiography and 3D transesophageal echocardiography. These areas of ultrasound imaging allow life-like imaging of the heart, rendering diagnosis of even the most complex congenital heart diseases more reliable. Three-dimensional imaging of the heart allows physicians and surgeons to accurately evaluate cardiac lesions.
Clinical research projects of congenital heart disease are conducted at the Center for Congenital and Structural Heart Disease. These projects assess the standard of care for heart diseases in children and adults.
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