Educational events

The 2013 Cardiac Diagnostic Interventional Symposium (CDIS)

John H. Balcom, RN, BScN, BHA, Staff Nurse, Creator and Chair of CDIS, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
John H. Balcom, RN, BScN, BHA, Staff Nurse, Creator and Chair of CDIS, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

John Balcom, RN, BScN, BHA, can be contacted at

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), affiliated with the University of Toronto, is Canada’s most research-intensive hospital and the largest center dedicated to improving children’s health in Canada. SickKids is an innovator in child health, improving the health of children by integrating care, research, and teaching. 

SickKids’ first Cardiac Diagnostic Interventional Symposium, held October 18-19, 2013, was presented as part of the hospital’s vision of “Healthier Children.  A Better World.” Over 40 nurses, physicians and allied healthcare professionals from the Hospital for Sick Children, and surrounding areas of Toronto, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C., attended the symposium. 

The hospital’s state-of-the-art Mitchell Goldhar Cardiac Diagnostic and Interventional Unit (CDIU), specially designed for children, opened in June of 2007. The 18,000 square-foot unit includes two catheterization labs, an integrated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine and a post-anesthetic recovery area for patients. The CDIU was designed with children in mind. The unit’s outer space theme provides a fun, stress-free environment in waiting areas, corridors, and treatment rooms. There are built-in lava lamps, an interactive asteroid, as well as colorful lights and wall decorations to distract patients from upcoming procedures. The corridors are lined with educational and research-based posters demonstrating a dedication to excellence on the part of CDIU physicians, nursing, and allied healthcare staff.

The symposium focused on nursing and allied healthcare professional education.  The objectives included outlining new and emerging approaches to diagnostic and management in cardiac catheterization care; perspectives of innovation, research and education; networking and dialogue around team building and interdisciplinary collaboration within the cardiac catheterization unit; and review of best practices in the transition of care to adult centers. Seminars were developed and presented by a variety of renowned cath lab experts.  

Presentations included:

  • A tour of the CDIU; 
  • Fetal cardiac interventions; 
  • Electrophysiology: the basics; 
  • Good 2 Go Program: pediatrics to adult transition; 
  • Pulmonary hypertension; 
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO); 
  • Hybrid stage I/II: coordination; 
  • Anesthesia in the cath lab; 
  • Hemodynamic assessment by respiratory mass spectrometry (Mass Spec) and direct Fick; 
  • Radiation safety; 
  • History of cardiac catheterization; 
  • Clinic and post-anesthesia care unit (PACU); 
  • Cardiac catheterization of the single ventricle heart; 
  • Overview of interventional cardiology; 
  • Structural intervention in adults; 
  • Comfort Talk/local anesthetic study; 
  • Virtual cardiac catheterization of the fetus by MRI; 
  • Cadaver lab/pathology specimens, including over 50 hearts consisting of congenital heart defects; 
  • Vendor presentations on cath lab topics.

The symposium was created as a result of the desires of nursing staff for more cath lab-specific education in an engaging and interactive format. They also wanted a forum where cath lab nurses could exchange knowledge and learn from each other on an international and/or regional level. This was accomplished through a variety of presentation formats and in the structure of the symposium itself. Evaluations from those attending the sessions revealed that the presentations were found to be informative, educational, and engaging.  

A symposium committee from SickKids created the Cardiac Diagnostic Interventional Symposium. The committee includes nurses and allied health care professionals. They began by reflecting on many educational topics and worked to develop themes that directed the symposium content.  

The primary sponsor, Cardiac Kids, was integral to the success of the symposium.  Other sponsors included St. Jude Medical, Alere, Cordis, Boston Scientific, Gore, and Medtronic, beneficial in supporting other aspects of the symposium. Many of the sponsors also set up a booth at the symposium where they displayed information and innovative technology to support cath lab advances.

Future concepts for CDIS are in the planning phases for the next event, to take place in September 2015. The symposium will have abstracts and submissions, requested in evaluations from participants. The 2015 CDIS will be held at the new Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning tower, located next to the Hospital for Sick Children in downtown Toronto, Canada. This tower is believed to be the largest child health research tower in the world and demonstrates SickKids’ investment in advancing pediatric research. Other plans include a live case performed by Dr. Lee Benson, director of the Cardiac Diagnostic and Interventional Unit at The Hospital for Sick Children, and cadaver heart labs to provide education and enhance knowledge of specific cardiac defects. Another addition will be an open forum with actual patients to discuss and answer questions about their personal experiences.  The committee continues to meet regularly to further plan and develop the 2015 Symposium. 

CDIS 2013 was a success, meeting the educational needs of nursing staff and attendees. It gave momentum to the beginning of an educational tradition at the Hospital for Sick Children that will help build our vision of “Healthier Children. A Better World”.