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Coronary Artery Program | Overview

The Coronary Artery Program at the Benderson Family Heart Center at Boston Children’s Hospital treats children who have an abnormality or malformation of a coronary artery.

Why choose the Coronary Artery Program at Boston Children’s?

Our program brings together experts from the Heart Center to collectively draw on their expertise and knowledge so that we can best diagnose and treat coronary anomalies. Coronary anomalies occur infrequently and they’re not always the same. They are also not usually diagnosed until late adolescence or adulthood because of a lack of symptoms, or the symptoms that are visible aren’t always attributed to a coronary anomaly.

That’s why Boston Children’s formed the Coronary Artery Program: to establish a systematic approach to detecting the many variations and patterns of a coronary anomaly and determining the best way to treat each patient’s condition. The program is comprised of experts from several specialty areas at the Heart Center, including Cardiology, Non-Invasive Cardiac Imaging, Cardiac Catheterization, Adult Congenital Heart, Cardiac Anesthesia, and Cardiac Surgery. As a team, we’re constantly gathering information and building on each patient case to more quickly and accurately detect and treat abnormalities and malformations.

 

How has the program’s approach improved the care of anomalous coronary artery?

Since the program’s inception in 2017, our clinicians have made great strides in understanding the many differences of coronary abnormalities. Children can be born with a coronary anomaly, or acquire it through treatment for other congenital heart defects and diseases. Conditions such as Kawasaki disease can also affect their coronary arteries. By having a dedicated focus on coronaries, our team takes advantage of its experience and resources to collectively compare cases and use those findings to shape each patient’s treatment plan, as well as develop a holistic strategy for the department itself.

We have recognized that coronary artery problems are probably more common than what medical experts once believed. It’s a discovery that has led many to value the importance of our program and recognize how it increases the visibility of coronary abnormalities and the need to not only treat anomalies through surgery, but to also have a specific way to care for children long after a procedure.

Innovating the future of coronary artery treatment and care

By pulling together experts across the many disciplines of the Cardiac Surgery and Cardiology departments, the Coronary Artery program also benefits from their innovative research – work that is uncovering why coronary abnormalities happen and how they can be corrected. For instance, one study is using computer modeling to review the changes in coronary blood flow that may lead to sudden death. We’re also participating in a multi-center study that looks at the anxiety a coronary anomaly diagnosis causes families. Another study aims to understand the pathologic changes associated with anomalous aortic origin of a coronary artery (AAOCA).

Helping families understand coronary artery treatment

Another advantage of having experts from many cardiac and coronary disciplines on one team is that there is always someone available to talk to your family about the specifics of treatment. A coronary artery diagnosis often causes stress for families because of the risk of sudden death. Our team members can provide the information that will help your family make the most informed decisions on surgery and aftercare.

While we’re collectively learning more about coronary anomalies to enhance our work, we’re also working together to help parents understand the intricacies and complications of coronary anomalies and how we intend to get their children on a path to recovery.

Cases Presented at Coronary Artery Case Conference

Our coronary artery program has grown since it started in 2017; only four years later, we had 100 cases to look back on at our bimonthly clinical case conference.

Surgery for Anomalous Aortic Origin of Coronary Artery

We have had increasing referrals for AAOCA; we now perform about 12 operations a year.