Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery

As the first and only comprehensive pediatric cardiothoracic surgery program in the state, backed by the research that’s leading the way in today’s most powerful medicine, we can offer you and your child greater possibilities for health and healing.

Every year, we see hundreds of children with congenital cardiac conditions, ranging from relatively minor to highly complex, and every single one is unique. That’s why a fully dedicated children’s hospital with every aspect – ​including anesthesia, operating rooms, cardiac ICU and around-the-clock intensive care –  designed specifically and only for kids can make all the difference. The results prove it: Our program has achieved rankings that meet or exceed some of the most successful programs in the country.

Some of the cardiothoracic procedures our pediatric team performs include:

Neonatal & Infant Cardiac Surgery

There are numerous types of heart defects in children – some that are present upon birth (congenital), and some that develop with age. Any defect that develops inside the heart or in the large blood vessels connected to it is considered a heart defect. Depending on the severity of the defect, your child may need surgery immediately or can safely wait for a few months or even years. Heart defects in children may be repaired using either open-heart or closed-heart surgery or, in some cases, through an artery in the leg.

Single Ventricle Surgery

Although it is rare, babies are sometimes born with only one of the two necessary ventricles of the heart, leaving only a single ventricle to pump both the oxygenated and non-oxygenated blood the heart needs. As a result, the body gets too little oxygenated blood – creating a blueish appearance. Treatment for this condition starts very early in the newborn’s life and requires three stages of treatment. The first occurs in the first few weeks of life and consists of surgically placing a shunt to allow more blood flow to the lungs. The second, called the Glenn, is performed late in infancy and replaces the original shunt. Finally, when the child is between 18 months to 3 years of age, the final procedure, the Fontan, is performed. This final step changes the way blood is pumped to the heart, allowing it to flow from the body to the lungs and to separate oxygenated and non-oxygenated blood, greatly improving and sometimes even eliminating the condition altogether.

Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery

Minimally invasive heart surgery procedures provide an alternative to open-heart surgery, eliminating the need to cut through the breastbone. Using either laparoscopic or robot-assisted techniques, the surgeon will work through small incisions in the child’s ribcage. Because ​these are much smaller incisions, patients can generally expect less pain and discomfort, and less recovery time after surgery.

Congenital Coronary Anomaly Repair

In a very small percentage of newborns, the heart is formed with both the left and right coronary arteries on one side of the aorta, forcing the misplaced artery to take a different course to send blood to the heart. The condition is called a coronary artery anomaly and, in many cases, may cause no difficulties or symptoms. However, for those who do experience difficulties, surgery to re-implant the anomalous artery on the correct side may be necessary.

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

For children with life-threatening heart or lung conditions, ECMO is a life-support system that provides breathing and heart functionality while the child is undergoing treatment. The ECMO machine moves blood from the child to the machine’s “lung,” where it simulates normal lung function by adding oxygen and removing carbon dioxide, then sends it back to your child. ECMO can provide life-saving support to children for days or even weeks as necessary for treatment.

Mononuclear Cell Therapy for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome

Children born with a severe underdevelopment of the left side of the heart, or hypoplastic left heart syndrome, usually require surgical intervention, completed in stages, to reroute the flow of blood in the heart. In many cases, in the first phase of treatment, the surgeon will inject mononuclear cells to help boost the performance of the right side of the child’s heart. The outcome of this phase helps the surgeon determine the appropriate steps during the second phase of treatment.

 
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Patient Information

All surgical services at The Children’s Hospital are designed specifically with children and their families in mind. Our equipment and tools are designed just for kids, helping to make the experience more comfortable and less frightening for everyone. All patients have their own private room, and to help ease the child’s anxiety and make them feel safe, we don’t perform any treatments or procedures in the room unless absolutely necessary.

As part of our effort to make children and families feel as comfortable and informed as possible, we have Child Life specialists on staff to help everyone share feelings and emotions, learn as much as possible about medical care, and understand what to expect. Learn more about these and other services through our Child Life Department.

Parents of patients are welcome during any hours, but there may be some restrictions on other visitors after 9 p.m. One parent can always stay overnight with your child.

Preparing for Surgery

To help everyone in the family feel more comfortable before your child’s hospital stay, we offer guided tours of our pediatric facilities. As your surgery date gets closer, be sure to communicate with your child in terms that are appropriate for his/her age. It’s important to ask about their concerns and help alleviate any fears by providing as much information as possible (keeping in mind what is age-appropriate for your child). It might also be helpful to remind your child that the stay is temporary, and to spend time preparing and packing together, letting your child pack some things they choose on their own. Your physician can help you with specific information regarding your child’s condition and how to talk about what will happen.

All pediatric inpatient surgical services are performed at:

The Children’s Hospital
1200 N. Childrens Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73104
405-271-4357

We are proud to be a part of the Mended Little Hearts program, whose mission is connecting patients and families on their heart journey. Find more information on the Oklahoma City chapter here.