Johns Hopkins All Children's Heart Institute

Pediatric Electrophysiology

We provide diagnosis and treatment for children and adults who have congenital heart disease with abnormal heart rhythms, known as arrhythmias.

For children with heart rhythm problems, our team at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, provides comprehensive diagnosis and treatment planning in our Pediatric Electrophysiology program. We treat patients with arrhythmias, in which the heart beats too fast, too slow, or irregularly, or patients who have conditions that may cause them to have arrhythmias.

Our program provides a full range of non-invasive and invasive treatments, including ablation, which uses a very thin tube called a catheter to treat the area of the heart that is causing the rhythm problem. Our success rates for ablation procedures are above the national average for eliminating arrhythmias.

What causes an arrhythmia?

An arrhythmia occurs when there is a problem with the electrical system in the body that controls heart rhythm, causing an irregular heartbeat. Arrythmias can be caused by abnormal electrical connections in normal hearts, as part of a cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the muscle of the heart that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood through the body, or other congenital heart defects.

Certain genetic diseases can cause abnormal rhythms, some of which can be life-threatening, such as:

  • Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW)
  • Long QT syndrome
  • Short QT syndrome
  • Brugada syndrome
  • Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT)

Arrhythmias can also be caused by fever, infection, and certain medications.

Arrhythmia symptoms

Children with an arrythmia may not show symptoms. If they do, symptoms may include:

  • Weakness
  • Feeling tired
  • Heart palpitations (feeling like the heart is fluttering)
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fainting
  • Appearing pale
  • Chest pain
  • A slow or fast heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeding difficulty in infants
  • Irritability in infants

Advanced care for pediatric arrhythmia

There are several different types of tests or monitoring systems that may be used to diagnose arrhythmias, including:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Exercise stress test
  • Holter monitor (extended wireless)
  • Tilt table testing
  • Electrophysiology study (using a catheter – a very thin tube guided into the heart through the blood vessels – to examine the electrical system of the heart)
  • Implantable long-term monitors to diagnose intermittent symptoms

We also provide genetic testing and counseling for patients and families with a history of heart disease or other conditions that can cause arrythmias. We are experienced in working with patients who have arrythmia due to a genetic component. For patients who may need additional genetics services, we work closely with the physicians in the Pediatric Cardio-Genetics Clinic. We also consult with the Fetal Heart Program team on treatment planning for complex fetal arrhythmias for families whose babies may be diagnosed before birth.

Treatment for arrythmias

Treatment will depend on your child’s individual condition. Treatment may include:

  • Medication
  • Implantable devices that help the heart to beat regularly, including:
    • Implantable cardioverter defibrillators
    • Pacemakers
  • Ablation

Ablation is a procedure in which a catheter (a very thin tube) is inserted into the heart through the blood vessels through a very tiny incision. The catheter is guided into the heart to stop the abnormal heart tissue that is causing the heart to beat irregularly by applying heat therapy (radiofrequency ablation) or cryoablation (cold ablation).

We use imaging to guide the catheter, using state-of-the-art 3D heart mapping technology and zero or minimal radiation. Most patients are able to go home the same day as the procedure. We are one of the few programs in the region that offers both radiofrequency ablation and cryoablation.

 

Contact Us

For more information or to make an appointment, please call 727-767-3333. We serve families throughout the greater Tampa Bay area and beyond.