Coronavirus Update:What patients and families need to know
Pediatric Heart Surgery
What are the benefits of early primary repair in heart surgery for children?
At Children’s National, we plan treatments with your child’s long-term health in mind. If a newborn needs heart surgery, we intervene early and aggressively to correct defects. This way, the repair or reconstruction grows with your child and he or she benefits from a faster recovery. This approach is called early primary repair.
Many heart programs for children recommend waiting until a newborn is older before performing heart surgery. However, the longer we wait, the more health consequences a child may suffer. We perform surgery on infants so we can give them the best possible start in life:
- More than two-thirds of cardiovascular surgeries we perform are on patients less than 1 year old
- Half of those surgeries are on newborns less than 1 month old
When children need open heart surgery, we often need to place them on a cardiopulmonary bypass machine. During the surgery, the bypass machine takes over the function of the lungs and heart. This can carry a risk of neurological damage.
At Children’s National, our team takes every step possible to protect your child’s brain development. In fact, we are considered a leader in this area. Our heart specialists use evidence-based protective measures and take all the necessary steps to ensure a successful surgery — for your child’s heart and brain.
Our goal is to maximize the quality of our patients’ lives and ease the stress on families. Children’s National Heart Institute provides many family-centered services because we understand that when a child is ill, it affects the entire family.
Our pediatric heart specialists have dedicated their careers to providing excellent heart care to patients with congenital heart defects and other cardiac conditions. To us, child-centered care is not just a phrase — it is at the core of all we do. We offer:
- Specialized care. Our pediatric heart surgery team has advanced experience performing heart procedures, from basic procedures to the most complex. You can feel confident that the most qualified, experienced specialists will be caring for your child.
- 24/7 anesthesia care. A pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist is available 24/7 to provide anesthesia, sedation and pain management for our littlest patients. In fact, Children’s National is the only hospital in the Washington, D.C., region to offer that guarantee.
- Protecting brain development. Our holistic approach means we care for all aspects of your child’s health. During heart surgery, we use advanced measures to protect your child’s brain and neurological development.
- Advanced technology. We’ve incorporated the most sophisticated technology available into our procedure rooms and cardiac intensive care unit. For example, our cardiac operating rooms include flat-paneled TV screens so that every specialist in the room can see exactly what is happening during the procedure, leading to better collaboration and a smoother, more efficient surgery.
- Collaborative. Your child’s heart team includes many different specialists, including pediatric heart surgeons, cardiologists and anesthesiologists. We meet regularly and collaborate about your child, discussing care recommendations and next steps.
- Family-centered. We know that you want to be with your child at all times. With that in mind, we designed extra-large rooms in our Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (Cardiac ICU), with plenty of room for one or both parents to stay with their child. We strive to make your time with us as comfortable as possible.
Our approach to care results in shorter lengths of stay for patients following surgery. For example, we use the smallest incisions possible and streamline our surgical process so it’s efficient and effective. We provide:
- Preoperative diagnosis. We pinpoint your child’s exact condition. An accurate diagnosis is crucial in order to tailor a personalized treatment plan. Learn more about cardiac imaging.
- Postoperative care and evaluation. After your child’s surgery:
- Pediatric cardiac intensivists and cardiac critical care nurses and therapists provide the next stage of care in our Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.
- After a Cardiac ICU stay, we transfer your child to a dedicated cardiac unit with specially trained cardiac physicians and advanced practice nurse practitioners.
- During the recovery period, we perform tests to ensure the success of the procedure.
- Next steps. If your child needs any type of post-surgery therapy or other care, we plan for that and discuss the next steps with you.
Learn more about our services:
- Services for Families: Support services and helpful resources for families and patients
- Amenities: Information about our facilities and services available during your child’s hospitalization
For more information, call the Division of Cardiac Surgery at 1-202-476-2811.
Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) is a combination of several abnormalities of the heart and great blood vessels. It is a congenital syndrome.
Teresa, age 2, was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and waited on the Berlin Heart EXCOR® Pediatric Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) for nine months while she waited for a heart transplant. Her heart arrived on Christmas Day.
Ryan was born with a rare condition — his heart developed outside his body. Find out how Children's National doctors worked together to help Ryan thrive.
When Ryan turned 2 months old, his parents noticed a change in his behavior. Their son – who once loved to eat – suddenly stopped nursing, began sleeping more than usual, gradually became fussy and struggled to breathe when he laid down.
Father and son Ryan and Alex Morales know what it’s like to spend days—even weeks in the hospital. The two have been patients at Children’s National Hospital for more than 10 years. Their stories are connected by Children’s National physicians who have been treating them since 2005 and continue to see them improve and grow in more ways than one.
Zachary Blumenfeld is so thankful for the Children’s National Hospital physicians who saved his life. Now, he wants to spread miracles around the world.
When Dieana was getting her 19-week obstetrical ultrasound, she got some unsettling news about her son, Gino.
The day Mollie Inman was born, everything about their baby seemed normal to her parents. However, what was in store for the next couple of days proved to be very challenging for the family. The next day , Mollie’s doctors discovered something wrong with her heart.
Two-year-old Serenity is a normal toddler with a not-so-normal story. She has a long scar in the middle of her chest (her “boo boo”) that represents the three open heart surgeries she had before her second birthday.
When Chip was born just three days after Christmas, his family was excited to welcome their new son into the world. But things immediately took a turn for the worse.
Restrictive cardiomyopathy is a rare heart condition in which the heart muscles are too stiff and can’t relax to fill and pump the correct amount of blood to other parts of the body. For Nadia, this not only meant that her intestine function was compromised, causing nausea and vomiting, but her lungs also had to work in overdrive.
Before Penelope was even born, she had a team of Children's specialists ready with a treatment plan for her heart defect.
We provide personalized care for babies and children with heart failure, including advanced VAD techniques and heart transplantation.
Our pediatric heart surgery team performs twice the number of surgeries of any other hospital in the region, with some of the best outcomes in the nation.
Share your birthday with a child. Celebrate your life, and give a chance to someone who desperately wants to have as many as you.
Make it happen