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Pediatric Heart Surgery

Pediatric Heart surgery in children is done to repair congenital heart defects and also to treat life threatening heart diseases that a child gets after birth. The surgery is needed for the child's well-being. There are many kinds of heart defects -- Some minor and others more serious. Defects can occur inside the heart or in the large blood vessels outside the heart which may need surgery right after the baby is born or sometimes the child may be able to safely wait for months or years to have surgery. One surgery may be enough to repair the heart defect, but sometimes a series of procedures is needed. Three different techniques for fixing congenital defects of the heart in children are described below:

Open-heart surgery is done when the surgeon uses a heart-lung bypass machine.

  • An incision is made through the breastbone while the child is under general anesthesia, so the child will not feel any pain during the procedure.
  • Tubes are used to re-route the blood through a special pump called a heart-lung bypass machine which adds oxygen to the blood and keeps the blood warm and moving through the rest of the body while the surgeon is repairing the heart.
  • Using the machine allows the heart to be stopped making it possible to repair the heart muscle, the heart valves, or the blood vessels outside the heart. After the repair is done, the machine is removed, and the heart is started again.

The symptoms that indicate if the child needs surgery

  • Blue or grey skin, lips, and nail beds and these symptoms often mean that there is not enough oxygen in the blood.
  • Difficulty in breathing because the lungs are congested or filled with fluid which may lead to heart failure
  • Problems with heart rate or heart rhythm
  • Is not feeding or sleeping properly, and lack of growth and development of the child

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