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Pediatric Heart Surgery

The news that your child requires heart surgery is never easy to hear. We understand that you will have many questions and concerns about the surgical process and what you can expect. The expert cardiac surgeons and specially-trained staff at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital will support your family through each turn.

Our pediatric cardiac surgeons are highly regarded for their expertise in a broad range of congenital repairs.

Your child’s cardiac surgery will be performed by pediatric cardiac surgeons in one of the nation’s most advanced surgery centers. Providence Sacred Heart is a leader in the treatment of heart disease and our highly trained team offers a wealth of experience in traditional procedures, as well as innovative techniques.

As a partner in your child’s cardiac care, we will work closely with your referring physician to help ensure coordinated care throughout your stay at the hospital and when you return home.

Types of surgery

There are many kinds of heart defects. Some are minor, and others are more serious. Defects can occur inside the heart or in the large blood vessels outside the heart. Some heart defects require surgery right after the baby is born. For others, your child may be able to safely wait for months or years to have surgery.Sometimes conditions are repaired with multiple surgeries as your child grows. The major types of surgery are:

Open-heart surgery is when the surgeon uses a heart-lung bypass machine.

  • An incision is made through the breastbone (sternum) while the child is under general anesthesia (the child is unconscious and does not feel pain).
  • Tubes are used to re-route the blood through a special pump called a heart-lung bypass machine. This machine adds oxygen to the blood and keeps the blood warm and moving through the rest of the body while the surgeon is repairing the heart.
  • Using the machine allows the heart to be stopped. Stopping the heart makes it possible to repair the heart muscle itself, the heart valves, or the blood vessels outside the heart. After the repair is done, the machine is removed, and the heart is started again. The breastbone and the skin incision are closed up.

For some heart defect repairs, the incision is made on the side of the chest, between the ribs. This is called a thoracotomy (it is sometimes called closed-heart surgery).

Another way to fix defects in the heart is to insert a few small tubes into an artery in the leg and pass them up to the heart. Only some heart defects can be repaired this way.

Preparing for surgery?