3 Treatment Options Pediatric Cardiologists Use for Heart Defects

Children who have been diagnosed with a severe congenital heart defect have more options available than ever to improve the quality of their life. The type and severity of a child’s heart defect determines the need for pediatric heart surgery.

1. Cardiac Catheterization

Some heart defects can be repaired by inserting thin, plastic tubes called catheters into veins or arteries. Cardiac catheterization doesn’t require pediatric heart surgery and is typically a less invasive procedure for treating heart defects.

During the procedure, a heart catheter is inserted through a needle close to the affected vein or artery. While the catheter is in place, repair to affected area is performed without the need for major chest surgery. The specific technique used will depend on the type of heart defect.

Closing abnormal holes in the lining of the heart and widening narrow and stiff valves are common conditions treated by cardiac catheterization.

2. Heart Surgery

If a child’s heart condition can’t be treated using a cardiac catheterization, pediatric heart surgery may be required. Sometimes only one surgical procedure is required to repair the heart defect, however more than one surgery over the course of months or years may be needed.

Open-heart surgery can be used to repair and improve a wide variety of congenital heart defects in children. Using open-heart surgery, doctors can repair holes in the heart lining, replace heart valves, correct abnormal tissue growth, as well as widen and arteries.

3. Heart Transplant

In very rare cases, the scope or severity of a child’s heart defect makes it too complex to repair with regular pediatric heart surgery procedures. In these cases, the child’s heart is removed and replaced with a healthy heart donated by the family of a deceased child.

A transplanted heart grows along with the child, although it typically requires the life-long use of medication to control the sides effects of the transplant.