A heart condition is called congenital when it is present at birth. Early detection of congenital heart defects allows for careful planning of future care, so Medical City Children’s Hospital is proud to be at the leading edge of prenatal diagnosis.
With a fetal echocardiogram, we can identify certain heart problems just 12 weeks into a pregnancy. Using fetal detection to find potential problems in utero gives us the ability to provide the treatment best suited for a successful outcome. As soon as a defect is discovered, our congenital heart surgeon meets with the parents to answer any questions and review treatment options. After delivery, a neonatologist makes sure the baby is stable until surgery.
Congenital heart surgery is always a delicate operation, so Medical City Children’s Hospital has assembled a team of specialists who always work together to ensure that this complex procedure goes smoothly. This dedicated team consists of a world-class congenital heart surgeon, a pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist, a core group of specialized pediatric heart nurses and a pediatric perfusionist.
The perfusionist runs the heart/lung bypass machine or, when appropriate, handles long- and short-term extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Medical City Children’s Hospital perfusionists are experienced in multiple strategies of myocardial protection, blood gas management, ultrafiltration, circulatory arrest techniques, low-flow regional perfusion and anticoagulation management.
Surgeries are scheduled by our program coordinator, who also brings a personal touch by communicating with the baby’s family before, during and after the operation. Our highly specialized team has an unparalleled level of experience working with the unique needs of children.
Congenital Heart Surgery Unit
After surgery, our patients recover in the Congenital Heart Surgery Unit, a special facility intensely focused on caring for newborns, children and adolescents with heart defects.
Our dedicated staff includes a core group of nurses who focused their training on caring for children with congenital heart disease and have received CCRN certification for critical care nursing. Additionally, pediatric intensivists are present 24 hours a day to provide high-level intensive care.
Because being relaxed is critical to healing, we allow parents to visit children 24 hours a day, make every room private, and offer TV, DVD and Internet access to both patients and family.
Furthermore, we take a family-centered approach to care. Regular family care conferences keep everyone up to date on the approach. And we keep in touch over time, which is especially useful for patients who have to return to Medical City Children’s Hospital throughout their lives for follow-up care.
Once stable, they are moved to the pediatric step-down unit to facilitate the transition home. At this stage, parents learn any special care required for their child.
Once step-down is completed, we encourage parents to let their child get back to being a kid. Children have amazing recovery abilities and intuitively understand to stop playing if they overexert themselves. All patients receive ongoing care from their cardiologist, and the congenital heart surgeon personally follows up with their obstetrician and pediatrician.