Paediatric Cardiac Surgery
Overview Heart surgery in children is done to repair heart defects a child is born with (congenital heart defects) and heart diseases a child gets after birth that need surgery. The surgery is needed for the child’s wellbeing. Why Its Done There are many kinds of heart defects. Some are minor, and others are more […]
Heart surgery in children is done to repair heart defects a child is born with (congenital heart defects) and heart diseases a child gets after birth that need surgery. The surgery is needed for the child’s wellbeing.
Why Its Done
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 may need surgery right after the baby is born. For others, your child may be able to safely wait for weeks, months or years to have surgery.
One surgery may be enough to repair the heart defect, but sometimes a series of procedures is needed. Three different techniques for fixing congenital defects of the heart in children are described below.
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 asleep and pain free).
- 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 heart is started again, and the machine is removed. The breastbone and the skin incision are then closed.
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. This surgery may be done using special instruments and a camera. In most cases, a heart-lung bypass machine is not needed with this approach. Not all heart defects are able to be treated with this approach.
Another way to fix defects in the heart is to insert small tubes into an artery in the leg and pass them up to the heart. This is called a cardiac catheterization. Only some heart defects can be repaired this way.