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Collaboration, Innovation at the Heart of Phoenix Children’s Heart Center

Updated: Apr 30

John P. Breinholt, III, MD


Interventional cardiology began largely as a diagnostic modality. Initially, our purview was to determine why children were born blue. Today, medical advances like cardiac ultrasound, color-flow Doppler and magnetic resonance imaging have made diagnostic cardiac catheterization less necessary in pediatrics. Instead, interventional cardiology has become an important treatment modality in its own right.

Evolution Of Interventional Cardiology

Today, our primary role as interventionalists is to use catheterization techniques to correct a wide range of congenital heart defects such as: Atrial Septal Defect, Patent Ductus Arteriosus, Coarctation of the Aorta, Semilunar Valve Disease and numerous others.


Many of these defects were once managed in surgery, but using a catheterization procedure, wherever possible, may drastically improve care. Surgery requires making a large incision in the chest, along with the associated risks of bleeding, infection and the inflammatory response to cardiopulmonary bypass. With catheterization, the procedure is minimally invasive and usually ends with a small bandage. Likewise, while surgery may require a lengthy hospital stay, cardiac cath offers a much quicker recovery and minimal time in the hospital.


A Team Approach

With every patient case, physicians with expertise in Fetal, Pediatric and Adult Congenital Heart Disease, along with specialists from the cardiac surgery and cardiovascular intensive care unit teams, come together to create a care plan. This is important because no two patients – and no two care plans – are ever the same. Our Heart Center Team, with expertise in every facet of cardiac care, can treat all types of conditions, from routine issues to life-threatening disease.


Beyond the aspects of planning care, this team model gives patient families a long-term perspective on their child’s health and a glimpse at life beyond the immediate shock of a CHD diagnosis. It also means that heart patients grow up with their clinicians.


Clinical collaboration is just one part of our team approach. An empowered team, open communication, and a commitment to accountability and transparency top our list of priorities. Every single one of us – from schedulers and administrators to nurse practitioners and doctors – is an important part of the care team.


This approach, simple as it may seem, has made a huge difference for many patients and families over the years. Although most pediatric heart centers have access to the exact same technology and tools, a collaborative, non-siloed approach truly sets the best programs apart.


To read the full article, please go to the December 2020 Issue of CCT.