paediatric heart surgery

Paediatric heart surgery

Paediatric heart surgery is performed to treat heart defects in children who are born with heart defects. This surgery is recommended for children with congenital heart defects. A child may experience various types of heart defects. Some could be minor, whereas some serious. The problem may arise inside the heart, on blood vessels or even outside the heart. Similarly, some conditions may need immediate surgery, soon the baby is born. But in some cases the surgeon may wait for a few days or months to decide upon the surgery.
Most of the paediatric heart problems can be cured with surgical procedures, however, some conditions may demand a serious attention and advanced medical procedures.


Types of Heart problems in Children:

Some of the major types of heart problems that a child may experience include:

  • Atrial Septal defect
  • Ventricular Septal defect
  • Fallot’s Tetralogy
  • Valvular defects

The paediatric surgeons deal with these conditions of heart through surgical procedures. Before the surgery is performed, the child may need to undergo various investigations, which include blood tests, chest X-ray, ECHO (electrocardiogram), cardiac catheterization and others as required.

Techniques Used to Treat Paediatric Heart Problems:

Open heart surgery: In this surgical procedure, the surgeon uses a heart lung by-pass machine. An incision is made through the breastbone by giving general anaesthesia to the child. The tubes are used to re-route the blood through this heart lung by-pass machine. This machine will add oxygen to the blood and also keeps the blood warm.
The advantage of using this heart lung by-pass machine is it to mainly stop the functioning of heart and allow the surgeon to perform the surgery in the heart muscle, heart valves and outside the heart. On successful completion of the surgery, the machine is removed to enable the heart to function again.
Thoracotomy, which means Incision on side of chest or between ribs, is followed for other types of heart problems. This surgical procedure is called closed heart surgery. Special types of instruments are used in this surgical method.
Insertion of small tubes into artery in leg is also another effective and popular treatment methods followed to treat paediatric heart problems.

Symptoms of heart disease in Child:

  • Skin, lips and nails turn blue or grey, which means less amount of oxygen in the blood
  • The child may find it difficult to breath, as the lungs are heavily congested with fluid.
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Breathless / fatigue /fainting


Potential risks of the Surgery:

The child may experience certain risks either during or after the surgery is performed. To point a few:

  • Bleeding during the surgery
  • Infections after the surgery
  • Breathing problems
  • Blood clots
  • Air bubbles
  • Stroke
  • Heart beat problems


When the child gets discharged from the hospital, the surgeon takes the responsibility to convey to the parents and emphasize them to follow certain surgical attention on the child. He may also stress on routine check-ups until the child is completely cured.