The Cardiac Sciences Program provides diagnostic, surgical, and follow-up services to patients and their families from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and, increasingly, from Newfoundland and Labrador. The Team is multidisciplinary and physicians and surgeons, a cardiology resident, a congenital cardiac surgical fellow, administrative staff, nurses in the diagnostic, ambulatory and inpatient areas, a cardiology technologist, a dietician, a social worker, a physiotherapist, a pharmacist and a child life specialist.
How we help
Our team provides a full range of services including:
- consult services
- daily clinics are held in the Children’s Heart Centre
- electrocardiography (or ECG, a test that measures the electrical activity of the heart)
- echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart)
- diagnostic and Interventional Cardiac Catheterization (a special test that gives doctors detailed information about your child’s heart and blood vessels)
- cardiac and Pulmonary Exercise Tests (a test that measures the heart’s rate and rhythm during exercise).
- pacemaker analysis
- interpretation of referred in ECGs, Holters, and Echocardiograms
- continuing education
- all types of cardiac surgery are performed at the IWK with the exception of cardiac transplantation. Patients are followed in their home community, whenever possible, and come to the Health Centre for further investigation or surgery.
- fetal Counselling. All abnormal fetal echocardiograms where the family desires counselling are reviewed by one of the pediatric cardiologists. Fetal echoes are performed by the Fetal Assessment and Treatment Centre or Diagnostic Imaging staff and reviewed with the pediatric cardiologist who is scheduled to counsel the parents. The cardiologist then meets with the family to review the anatomy and discuss possible options and outcomes.
- IWK Cardiac Transplant Clinic, jointly run by IWK and Hospital for Sick Children staff, is held annually. The purpose of the clinic is to provide education and support to IWK cardiologists and nurses involved in the care of these children. For families, this clinic visit will provide care closer to home, reducing the number of follow up visits required in Toronto.
Patients are followed in their home community whenever possible with approximately half of our ambulatory clinic visits occurring in one of 23 travelling clinics held in different communities throughout the Maritimes, including:
- Sydney, NS
- Yarmouth, NS
- Charlottetown, PEI
- Moncton, NB
- Saint John, NB
- Fredericton, NB
- Bathurst, NB
What to expect
Before your appointment it may be helpful to write down any questions you have. Some questions may include those related to feeding issues, medications, activity level and immunizations. Follow up appointments or additional testing, if required, will be discussed prior to the appointment ending. The booking clerk will notify you of follow up appointments by mail and/or a phone call.
To fully prepare for your child’s visit, please be sure to bring along:
- your child's health card
- your appointment letter
- a List of medications in addition any medications needed during your visit
- name and telephone number of your referring physician and/or family physician
- health insurance information
- a list of questions you and/or your child may have for the physician
- books, games, snacks, diapers, change of baby clothes or other necessities
Who you'll meet
Some of the people you may meet during your visit include the following.
There are five cardiologists who work in the Children’s Heart Centre. They’re physicians responsible for assessing, examining, diagnosing, and treating any congenital or cardiovascular problems your child may have (or deciding that your child does not have any problems). They'll see your child in follow-up appointments. You may also meet residents (doctors who are training to become family doctors, pediatricians or cardiologists) who work under the guidance of our physicians.
There are two cardiovascular surgeons who work in the Children’s Heart Centre. They perform surgery, and will see your child in pre-op visits, follow-up care post-operatively and follow-up appointments as needed. You may also meet residents or fellows (doctors who are training to become surgeons) who work under the guidance of our surgeons.
A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse with a Masters Degree who has advanced clinical skills and specialized knowledge, in this case about pediatric cardiology. They’re responsible for assessment, diagnosis, and management of a variety of cardiac conditions. During your child’s hospitalization they may examine your child, order and interpret X-rays or other tests, prescribe medications, decide on a treatment plan, and complete other health screening.
Registered Nurse First Assist
A RNFA is a registered nurse with advanced education and training who specializes in the area of pediatric cardiac surgery. They’re responsible for preoperative planning and coordination, assisting the cardiac surgeons during your child’s surgery, and following up with you and your child after surgery. They’re responsible for helping with any surgical issues/concerns (wounds, sutures, drains, etc) while your child is in hospital.
The registered nurses in the Children’s Heart Centre have a high level of knowledge, skill, and competence in the area of pediatric cardiology. They'll help answer questions you might have about your child’s cardiac condition, and will help guide you through whatever treatment option is necessary. They’re also knowledgeable about child growth and development, and can provide guidance if you have questions or concerns. Should your child require surgery, treatments, or hospitalization, they’re also instrumental in helping to make sure you and your child are adequately prepared.
Registered Nurse Sonographers
These registered nurses in the Children’s Heart Centre have a high level of knowledge, skill, and competence in the area of pediatric cardiology. They also perform echocardiograms (ultrasound examinations of the heart chambers, valves, and vessels) which contribute to the diagnostic and therapeutic information your cardiologist will use to provide care.
ECG technologists help the cardiologists with the ECG evaluation, which traces electrical impulses transmitted by the heart. The technologist attaches electrodes to the patient’s chest, arms, and legs, to obtain a reading. An EKG is printed out for interpretation by the physician. They also perform Holter monitoring, provide event recorders, and maintain the ECG transmission service.
Physiotherapists are trained to assess, treat, and prevent disease, injury, or conditions that affect the structure and/or movement of the human body through treatment, exercise, and education. Our physiotherapist is involved with patients in the inpatient setting, usually following cardiac surgery or during prolonged hospitalizations.
Child Life Specialist
Child life specialists have special training designed to promote the well-being of children and youth and their families by assisting them to cope with the stresses of health care through play, education, and other strategies. They’ll help explain what will happen in a way that makes sense for your child, and explore ways that can make things easier and less stressful. They help prepare children by using play, clear and simple information, as well as practice strategies for coping. They also support parents/caregivers in helping their children.
Social workers at the IWK have special training (Masters Degree) in the areas of medical and mental health social work practice. They’re dedicated to improving the physical health, mental health, and well-being of patients and families by working on the issues that patients and families identify as concerns.
The pre-operative clinic collaborates with the Children’s Heart Centre to provide ambulatory services for children scheduled for cardiac surgery, cardiac catheterization, transesophageal echocardiograms, and sedated echocardiograms. Prior to a Pre-Operative Clinic visit, a nurse will call to provide information, obtain any additional information that may be required, and answer any questions families may have. During a Pre-Operative Clinic visit, the nurse will take your child’s vital signs, medical history, and arrange for any blood test, x-rays, or additional diagnostic testing. They'll arrange for any additional health professional visits that are needed, and will give patients and families some helpful tips on how to prepare for hospitalization.
Respiratory Therapists are highly skilled health care professionals who care for patients by evaluating, treating, and maintaining cardiopulmonary (heart and lung) function. Respiratory Therapists have specialized medical expertise and use advanced medical technology, and are sometimes involved in performing cardiac and pulmonary exercise testing.
Accessing this Clinic, Program or Service
The Children’s Heart Centre outpatient clinic is located on the Main Floor of the IWK Children’s Building. Register at the reception desk as you enter the Heart Centre—the registration clerk will confirm personal information and detail the tests planned for your visit. You’ll then go to the waiting room until called for the various tests. After the tests, you’ll see the clinic nurse and/or Cardiologist. Waiting times vary but on average you can expect to be in the Heart Centre for two hours.
Referrals are accepted from family physicians, emergency departments, pediatricians and other specialists. New referrals are accepted for adolescents up to their 16th birthday.
Cardiology Clinic fax