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Pediatric Heart Surgery

Pediatric Heart Surgery

Pediatric Heart Surgery

Our Approach

Children with congenital heart defects usually need surgery within the first few years of life. The pediatric cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons at Children’s Hospital of Georgia perform hundreds of heart procedures each year.

The Children’s Hospital of Georgia offers a competitive pediatric and congenital cardiothoracic surgery department. We have the ability to operate on any defect, ranging from the most straightforward to the most complex, by offering:

  • A team approach: With a specialized surgeon, cardiologists, neonatologists, intensivists, anesthesiologists and postoperative support groups who are all involved and dedicated to provide the best care for children with complex heart diseases.
  • Compassionate care: we understand that you will have many questions and concerns throughout this process. Families in our program interact with our heart team daily, we are always here to address your questions or concerns.
  • Proactive planning: If we find a heart defect before your child is born, you will meet with fetal cardiology where doctors will create a specialized care plan and go over what to expect for your child’s upcoming surgery; it including tours of our intensive care units, meetings with our surgery team and introducing you to your pediatric cardiologist before your baby arrives.
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and NeonataIntensive Care Unit (NICU)  :  Children’s Hospital of Georgia has the highest-level children's ICUs in the area, with wireless telemetry monitoring for pediatric patients who require intensive cardiac care following surgery.
  • In-patient Pediatric Heart Unit: For pediatric patients who do not require intensive care, that is staffed by specially trained nurses who manage our pediatric heart patients.

Our hospital sees pediatric patients with a broad range of heart diseases and defects that we manage and treat such as:

  • Septal defects ASD, VSD and more complicated TOF
  • Patent ductus arteriosus,
  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome
  • Aortic valve disease
  • Aortic abnormalities
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Acquired heart defects

Our surgical team is expert at managing trauma to the heart, arteries and organs.  We use the latest techniques in heart surgery including:

Open heart surgery

Learning your child needs open heart surgery to correct a heart defect brings with it many anxiety provoking questions. Our pediatric heart surgery team plans for every detail before, during, and after surgery, giving you information you need so you are able to focus on the most important person - your child.

Open heart surgery is major surgery and your child will be completely sedated for their particular procedure.  You can find out more about what to expect for surgery including how to prepare them.

Cardiac catheterization

Minimally invasive surgical procedures are performed in our Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization Lab.  We use a unique hybrid approach where cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons come together to perform delicate heart procedures on pediatric patients.

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

When a child needs heart surgery, they will be put on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) to keep their hearts and lungs working while they are having surgery. Your child will be monitored by specially trained nurses and respiratory therapists.

These 10 benchmark procedures represent the national standards of care (as recognized by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons) and illustrate the types of high-in-demand procedures performed at Children’s Hospital of Georgia:

  • Aortic Arch Repair – Aortic Coarctation Repair

  • Arterial switch operation for transposition of great arteries
  • Atrial Septal Defect
  • Atrioventricular Canal Repair
  • Norwood Procedure for hypoplastic left heart syndrome (including hybrid stage I procedure)
  • Tetralogy of Fallot Repair
  • Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR)
  • Truncus arteriosus repair
  • Univentricular palliative procedures (Systemic-to-pulmonary Shunt, Bidirectional Glenn and Fontan Operation)
  • Ventricular Septal Defect

  Other Procedures We Perform

  • Aortic Valve Repair
  • Subaortic and Supra-aortic Stenosis Repair
  • Mitral Valve Repair
  • Ebstein’s Anomaly Repair
  • Congenitally Corrected Transposition of Great Arteries Repair
  • Damus-Kaye-Stansel Procedure
  • Double Outlet Right Ventricle Repair
  • Unifocalization of Major Aortopulmonary Collateral Vessels
  • Interrupted Aortic Arch Repair
  • Konno Procedure
  • Aortopulmonary Window Repair
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus Closure
  • Maze Operation
  • Pacemaker Implantation
  • Valve Repair or Replacement
  • Ross Procedure
  • Konno or Ross-Konno Procedure
  • Conduit Reoperation
  • Rastelli Procedure
  • Fontan Conversion operation for Failing Fontan
  • Valve Repair or Replacement
  • Ross Procedure
  • Aortic Root Replacement
  • Left Ventricular Outflow Tract Procedure
  • Right Ventricular Outflow Tract Procedure
  • Conduit Reoperation
  • Anomalous Origin of Coronary Artery from Opposite Sinus of Valsalva operation(s)
  • Anomalous Origin of Coronary Artery from Pulmonary Artery (ALCAPA or ARCAPA) Operation(s)
  • Coronary Repair and Bypass for Kawashaki Disease
  • Vascular Ring and Sling Repair
  • Partial Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Connection Repair
  • Valve(s) Repair and Replacement
  • Conduit Reoperation
  • Fontan Conversion for Failing Fontan
  • Aortic Root and Arch Reconstructive Procedures
  • Arrhythmia Operation(s)

If your child has a known heart defect, pediatric cardiologists will follow their health progress and present their findings to a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon to determine the best time to perform surgery.  Sometimes surgical timing depends upon age, weight, and medical status of your child.  Other times it can be more urgent, especially if the heart problem is life-threatening. We know each situation is unique, but in general, the cardiologist and cardiothoracic surgeon will talk to you about the nature of the surgery, and the staff will set up a surgery appointment.

The entire experience is centered around the principles of patient-and-family-centered care as we recognize the patient and family are the most important members of the care team. We encourage family involvement during all phases of care.

Pre-op work-up

You will bring your child in the day before their surgery to have the following done in preparation for surgery - you will go to the pre-op clinic on the 2nd floor of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia to have:

  • Laboratory tests
  • Chest x-ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • Health history review
  • Physical exam
  • Surgical consent will be explained and obtained by the surgical team.

The day of surgery

On the day of surgery, you will check in at Patient Access Services on the 1st floor of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, at the Operating Room main desk. Children may select a toy from the Dino Store, and are taken back, along with their parents, to the holding area to prepare for surgery where:

  • Clothes are changed.
  • Pediatric anesthesia and surgical teams speak with the patient and family.
  • Often a pre-operative medication is given to your child to help decrease anxiety.
  • Patients are then taken back to the operating room where they breathe an inhaled anesthetic agent, administered by a pediatric anesthesiologist, to go to sleep.
  • Once your child is asleep, all procedures are performed as planned.

Post-op care

Following an open-heart procedure, patients go directly to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Patients will be taken care of by a team of critical care intensivists or neonatologists, as well as, cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeon and nurses trained in caring for children with heart disease.

Prior to discharge, your child may be transferred to the surgical unit where they will be followed by the cardiology service with close involvement of the surgical team prior to their discharge home.


Patients usually follow up with Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Surgery after about two weeks, and sometimes again at six weeks.  If your family has traveled a long distance, you may be followed-up in one of our outreach clinics. Your child will then be followed at least annually, on an individual basis, by their cardiologist.


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