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Time is critical in the treatment of infants who are born with a serious congenital heart defect (CHD). When a child has surgery to repair CHD not long after birth, they quickly benefit from improved cardiac physiology and have a better chance of maturing and leading a healthy, full life.

Comprised of a group of specialists from across several disciplines, the neonatal cardiac surgery team at the Benderson Family Heart Center at Boston Children’s works together to plan and carry out the best course of treatment for any one of more than 30 types of CHD. We’re committed to providing comprehensive specialized care so that your family can start enjoying time with your child.

Why choose neonatal cardiac surgery at Boston Children’s?

About one out of 100 children is born with CHD, a structural heart problem that develops during pregnancy. If your child has CHD — whether it’s an uncomplicated type that needs only minimal treatment or a complex type that requires surgery shortly after birth — we aim to give you and your baby the best possible care. Our team draws on decades of collective experience to reach a diagnosis and devise an appropriate treatment plan for CHD and any possible conditions related to CHD, including hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) and transposition of the great arteries (TGA), that affect your child’s health.

From birth through adulthood

Our goal is to provide seamless care for you and your child — even as early as before birth. We work closely with our colleagues at the Maternal Fetal Care Center (MFCC) and the Fetal Cardiology Program to provide screening and care for mothers whose babies have been diagnosed, in utero, with cardiac conditions. We also collaborate closely with our partners at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and other hospitals so that treatment can begin in earnest after you deliver and arrive at Boston Children’s. Our experience in treating CHD during the neonatal period helps us aim for not only the best short-term outcomes for your baby, but it also establishes long-term outcomes that will benefit your child into adulthood.

Baby sits on chair and stares directly into the camera.

After complex heart surgery, baby Yah’ir is all smiles

When a fetal echocardiogram showed that Yah'ir would be born with an atrioventricular (AV) canal defect, a team consisting of cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, and nurses came together to care for him.

Collaborative care for neonates with congenital heart disease

We first assess your child to determine the best timing for surgery. Some children need surgery immediately; others first need their hearts to mature before an operation, so we will instead use catheters and stents as a temporary step.

If and when your child is ready for surgery, they will benefit from our mission to collaborate and always seek new ways to treat CHD. Our Neonatal Cardiac Care Consortium (NCCC) meets three times every week to review the treatment plans of all newborns in the Gail Federici-Smith and Family Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU). The team consists of cardiologists, intensive care physicians, interventional cardiologists, and neonatal cardiac surgeons. We share ideas on how to best approach treatment for each child: What kind of surgery is needed? Can we consider non-surgical treatments to prepare for surgery or maybe even use in place of surgery?

Also, before and after surgery, we coordinate with the Cardiac Neurodevelopment Program to include the diagnosis and treatment of neurodevelopmental conditions in treatment plans for patients who are potentially at risk.

Neonatal surgery can be complex and difficult. That’s why every neonatal operation at Boston Children’s involves a team of experienced anesthesiologists and at least two neonatal cardiac surgeons. We consistently see better outcomes for patients when more than one set of experienced eyes and hands repair CHD. Our experience and belief in collaboration allow us to constantly improve surgical treatment so that you and your child can safely get on a path to recovery.

Our cardiac surgeons partner with cardiologists, nurses, and other specialists in the Fetal Cardiology Program to deliver personalized care for you and your infant before and after birth.

Outstanding outcomes

At the Department of Cardiac Surgery at Boston Children’s, we collaborate with our colleagues across disciplines to deliver the best care for your newborn – and we have some of the best success rates. Data taken from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) Congenital Heart Surgery Database.

 

One-year survival

Over a one-year span, we have better survival rates by case complexity than STS national benchmarks.

Date for surgery performed: Jun 2021 - Jul 2022
Source: Fall 2022 STS report, table 7

Four-year length of stay

Over a four-year span, we have shorter hospital length of stays by case complexity when compared with STS national benchmarks.

Date for surgery performed: Jun 2018 - Jul 2022
Source: Fall 2022 STS report, table 19

Four-year case volume comparison

Over a four-year span, we have significantly higher neonatal case volumes by case complexity than those in the STS national database.

Date for surgery performed: Jun 2018 - Jul 2022
Source: Fall 2022 STS report, table 7
*: Total STS eligible cases divided by 114 participants