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What is a Pediatric Heart Surgeon?

If your child needs surgery to repair a heart problem, a pediatric heart (cardiac) surgeon has the knowledge and experience to treat your child. Pediatric heart surgeons offer the special care needed to fix both congenital (existing at birth) and acquired heart problems in children.

Pediatric heart surgeons treat complex congenital heart defects in newborns, children, and adolescents, as well as adults. Congenital heart defects are very different from the types of heart diseases that are common among adults. Repairing hearts in small bodies presents an added challenge. Pediatric heart surgeons have the special skills needed to provide the safest care for even the youngest and smallest patients who require heart surgery.

What Kind of Training Do Pediatric Heart Surgeons Have?

Pediatric heart surgeons are medical doctors who have completed

  • At least 4 years of medical school
  • A 5-year general surgical residency program
  • A 2- or 3-year cardiothoracic (heart/chest) residency program that usually includes 6 months of training in pediatric heart surgery
  • Two to 4 additional years of training in pediatric heart surgery

Pediatric heart surgeons often spend the first 1 to 2 years after training serving on the staff of a major pediatric heart center. In addition, they gain substantial experience by devoting a large part of their practice to the care of children.

What Types of Treatments Do Pediatric Heart Surgeons Provide? 

 Pediatric heart surgeons generally provide surgery for

  • Correcting conditions such as holes between chambers of the heart, valve problems, and abnormal blood vessels
  • Repairing injury to the heart
  • Correcting other congential and acquired heart defects
  • Heart, lung, and heart/lung transplants

Where Can I Find A Pediatric Heart Surgeon? 

Pediatric heart surgeons generally practice either in children’s hospitals or in larger medical centers that offer health care for both adults and children. Special facilities and equipment for children are required. The staff must include other pediatric specialists. Your pediatrician or pediatric cardiologist (heart specialist) will be able to recommend a heart surgeon who cares for children.

Pediatric Heart Surgeons — The Best Care For Children

Children are not just small adults. They cannot always say what is bothering them. They cannot always answer medical questions, and are not always able to be patient and cooperative during a medical examination. Infants and children who require heart surgery need to be cared for by a team of highly trained specialists in a place that is designed to meet their needs.

Pediatric heart surgeons offer a system of care that embraces the special needs of infants, children, and teens, as well as their families. They work very closely with doctors who are pediatric cardiologists. These specialists assist by diagnosing heart conditions and putting sound management plans in place before and after the surgery. Pediatric cardiologists also provide additional treatments for children with heart problems.

Pediatric heart surgeons may also include on their teams specialists in the fields of cardiology, cardiac anesthesia, neonatology, intensive care, nursing, respiratory therapy, and social work. These teams are extensively trained to offer the best medical care for your child before, during, and after surgery.

If your pediatrician suggests that your child see a pediatric heart surgeon or pediatric cardiologist, then these specialists will discuss with you in detail the choices for helping your child, and the possible outcomes. Rest assured that they will offer the right options so that you can choose the best treatment for your child.

To find a pediatrician or pediatric specialist in your area, click here.

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The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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