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Levine Children’s Hospital unveils new technology suite to treat congenital heart disease.

A rise in referrals and population growth in the region have increased demand for heart catheterization procedures at Levine Children’s Hospital by 15-20 percent in recent years.

When the Congenital Heart Center at Levine Children’s Hospital opens the Ganatra Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization and Electrophysiology Suite in mid-February, doctors will be better equipped to meet that growing demand. The suite also will allow doctors to better study and treat children and adults with congenital heart defects.

“Our new cardiac catheterization suite will be the most advanced in the region,” says Joseph Paolillo, MD, pediatric interventional cardiologist with Carolinas HealthCare System. “We also will have the latest imaging technology, which improves the quality of our images while greatly reducing radiation exposure to our patients and staff.”

Joseph Paolillo, MD, pediatric cardiologist, Steve Wright, AVP of cardiovascular services, Tom Wilson, technical operations manager of surgical services, central division, and Chan Roush, VP, central division operations, review the new pediatric catheterization lab at Levine Children's Hospital.

Joseph Paolillo, MD, pediatric cardiologist, Steve Wright, AVP of cardiovascular services, Tom Wilson, technical operations manager of surgical services, central division, and Chan Roush, VP, central division operations, review the new pediatric catheterization lab at Levine Children’s Hospital.

About ‘Heart Cath’

The new cardiac catheterization space features two advanced biplane cardiac catheterization suites. Cardiac catheterization, or heart cath, gives doctors details about how well a heart works, and allows many patients to be treated without open heart surgery.

“We have coupled the expansion of our facility and staff with incredible enhancements to our patient education program,” says Dr. Paolillo. “We will enhance our website by adding a virtual tour, descriptions of the most common congenital heart problems and cath procedures, and a chance to ‘meet the team’ in advance with biographies and testimonials.

“For our outpatient consultations, we have developed an app to educate patients and families about our procedures. These efforts to improve patient- and family-centered care are at the core of Levine Children’s Hospital.

“A lot of thought went into streamlining suite operations for cardiology and surgical teams, and referring physicians,” says Dr. Paolillo. “And by relocating the cath suites outside of the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit at Levine Children’s Hospital, it reduces transport risks for critically ill patients and gives intensive care unit staff immediate access to the suite.”

The new cardiac catheterization space at Levine Children's Hospital features two advanced biplane cardiac catheterization suites. Cardiac catheterization, or heart cath, gives doctors details about how well a heart works, and allows many patients to be treated without open heart surgery.

The new cardiac catheterization space at Levine Children’s Hospital features two advanced biplane cardiac catheterization suites.

Better Technology, Better Treatment

Many congenital heart defects are complex and require multiple tests for diagnosis and treatment, says Dr. Paolillo. In patients who have had certain tests such as CT scans and MRIs, doctors will be able to use those images to improve outcomes, and help shorten the heart cath procedure.

“We have seen tremendous growth in our overall heart cath program volume because of our increasing referral base, population growth in the region and our successful results,” says Dr. Paolillo. “We have had access to the latest investigational devices for several years now. Having the most advanced procedure rooms to use this leading technology is the next logical step in our program’s growth. There is also significant growth in the numbers of adults with congenital heart defects, who require care from a multidisciplinary team such as ours.”

The heart cath team has grown substantially and has plans to develop a separate, dedicated, multidisciplinary team that includes registered cardiovascular invasive specialists, radiology technologists and pediatric nurses (RN). The cath team also will develop a 3-D printing program, which will help doctors plan cardiac catheterizations and surgical procedures.

“Within a year, we’ll be able to create three-dimensional, plastic heart models that greatly enhance how we care for patients with complex heart defects,” says Dr. Paolillo. “As our experience with this 3-D printing technology grows, we’ll look to offer this service to other Carolinas HealthCare System locations and congenital heart centers in the region.”

The green lights in the pediatric catheterization suite at Levine Children's Hospital help improve visibility of images during procedures.

The green lights in the pediatric catheterization suite at Levine Children’s Hospital help improve visibility of images during procedures.