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Pediatric Cardiology


Welcome to the Pediatric Cardiology Department at St. Francis Hospital. We pride ourselves on offering non-surgical solutions for correcting congenital heart disease in children. We are one of the five top hospitals in the country for repairing patent foramen ovale (PFO) holes in the heart.

Our pediatric cardiologists performed 100 catheter closures in a single year with near perfect success. It takes our doctors 3 to 4 minutes of fluoroscope time to close a hole in a child’s heart versus 20 minutes in less specialized hospitals, thereby exposing the child to less radiation.

St. Francis Hospital was originally founded to treat rheumatic fever in children. The Pediatric Cardiology Department is proud to continue this mission of treating children, both locally and worldwide.

Through the “Gift of Life” program we perform catheterization and interventional procedures on disadvantaged children from all over the world in need of corrective cardiac treatment. The Gift of Life program began at St. Francis when the first child was brought here many years ago for treatment.

Our dedication to our pediatric patients continues as they grow into adulthood. We are always looking to participate in clinical studies to enhance our knowledge of congenital heart disease and continually provide the best treatment in the future.

- Sean Levchuck, M.D., Chairman of Pediatric Cardiology

Pediatric Cardiology Department Overview

Our Pediatric Cardiology team specializes in heart repair without surgery. We’re dedicated to providing the best care, expertise and technology for correcting selected congenital heart defects that previously would have required open heart surgery.

Cardiologists at St. Francis Hospital have a near perfect success rate using non-surgical catheter-based techniques that can achieve a permanent cure in patients with congenital defects.

Our pediatric department is among the busiest centers performing device closures on the east coast. We specialize in repairing holes between the upper chambers of the heart known as atrial septal defects (ASD) and patent foramen ovale (PFO).

Through the international “Gift of Life” program, we have also been able to reach out to children from economically and technologically disadvantaged countries so they too can benefit from these lifesaving procedures.

Our pediatric cardiologists are dedicated to treating all forms of acquired and congenital heart disease in children, infants and young adults as well as electrical disorders of the heart. We also treat adults with congenital heart disease.

Conditions Treated

  • Most forms of acquired and congenital heart disease in children and young adults
  • Congenital heart disease in adults
  • Catheter closure of atrial septal defects, patent foramen ovale and patent ductus arteriosus
  • Electrical disorders of the heart

Key Treatments

Transcatheter Closure for Holes in the Heart - This non-surgical procedure had been used only to repair holes smaller than 20 millimeters, but new devices now enable our physicians to treat patients with larger holes offering patients the benefits of heart repair without surgery. Through a small tube called a catheter, specially trained cardiologists implant a device to close the hole. The closure devices are attached to a catheter and advance to the heart through a needle hole in the vein of the patient’s leg. Upon insertion the flexible arms of the device open toward each other and attach to either side of the defective heart wall, sealing the hole. Within four to six months the normal smooth lining of the heart covers the device completely, effectively becoming a permanent part of the heart wall.

Stent Insertion for Congenital Heart Disease - A stent is an expandable wire-mesh sleeve that is inserted to prop open a narrowing in the arteries. Most aortic stents are inserted as a follow up to angioplasty, in which the narrowing is opened by inflating a balloon. The balloon and stent are delivered to the heart area via a long tube inserted in a blood vessel in the patient’s thigh.

Valvuloplasty for Congenital Heart Disease - Valvuloplasty, also know as percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty, is used to widen a narrowed or stiff stenotic heart valve. A catheter is inserted through a blood vessel in the arm or groin and guided through the heart to the diseased valve. Balloons on the catheter are inflated, enlarging the opening to the valve, thereby improving blood flow to the heart and the rest of the patient’s body.

Cardiac Arrhythmia Ablation in Children - Catheter Ablation is way of treating debilitating and potentially deadly arrhythmias or abnormal rhythms of the heart. A pediatric cardiologist inserts a catheter into the heart to find out where the arrhythmia originates. A device then delivers energy to the source of the irregular rhythm, disconnecting its electrical pathway and allowing the heart to beat more regularly.

Research & Clinical Trials

Closure 1 Trial - The purpose of this study is to compare the efficacy of using transcatheter PFO closure for cryptogenic stroke (i.e., from an unknown source) vs. anticoagulant medication.

Contact the Department of Pediatric Cardiology at (516) 365-3340 or Request an Appointment today!

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