Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Program

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Nationally Ranked Care for Children With Heart Conditions

The pediatric cardiac surgery program at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, treats children with congenital heart conditions and any heart diseases that develop as they grow.

Not all children with a heart condition need surgery. Our board-certified cardiac surgeons have the experience to know when pediatric heart surgery is required and when more conservative approaches are warranted.

Pediatric heart surgeons at Norton Children’s Hospital performed Kentucky’s first pediatric heart transplant in 1986, and the hospital was the second site in the United States to perform an infant heart transplant. The program’s legacy of innovation continues today as our specialists develop new techniques for a broad range of heart conditions.

Conditions that few children would have survived a generation ago are now corrected regularly with the skill and experience of the team at Norton Children’s Heart Institute’s pediatric cardiac surgery program. Our team works with Norton Children’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialists to identify and plan treatment for congenital heart conditions while your baby is still in your womb. With advance knowledge of a potentially life-threatening condition, we can plan your child’s treatment in conjunction with your delivery.

Children born at Norton Hospital in downtown Louisville are close by via pedway to the Norton Children’s Heart Institute operating rooms in Norton Children’s Hospital.

Throughout your child’s care, a patient navigator will guide you and your family and serve as your advocate to help with appointments, working with insurance and other details. Our team performs all diagnostic testing, surgeries and follow-up care at Norton Children’s Hospital.

Acquired Pediatric Heart Conditions 

Acquired heart conditions are not common in children. When children do develop a heart condition it is typically caused by another illness or a complication of a heart condition they were born with.

  • Rheumatic heart disease. This occurs when rheumatic fever damages heart valves. Rheumatic fever is very rare and typically develops from strep throat that was not treated with antibiotics. Inflamed and scarred valves can narrow or leak, inhibiting effective flow of blood through the heart. Rheumatic heart disease is often treated with medication, but heart valve repair or replacement surgery may be needed.
  • Cardiomyopathy. This causes the heart muscle to become weak and enlarged. The cause usually isn’t known, but it may run in families. Medication can help the heart pump more easily. Severe cases of cardiomyopathy in children require a heart transplant to treat heart failure.
  • Bacterial endocarditis. This infection hits the lining of the heart and valves and is rare in children. Children with a preexisting heart condition or congenital heart disease, especially related to the valves, are at higher risk. Intravenous antibiotics for several weeks may be needed to fight the infection. In cases with severe heart valve damage, valve replacement surgery may be needed.
  • Kawasaki disease. This is one of the most common causes of acquired heart disease in children and is treated with medication by a pediatric cardiologist. Kawasaki disease causes fever and most often affects kids under age 5.
  • Arrhythmia. These irregular heartbeats — too fast or too slow — are often harmless in children and don’t require treatment. There may be an underlying cause, such as an infection, that needs to be treated to fix the arrhythmia. In some cases, a minimally invasive procedure  — a cardiac catheterization to scar a small area of the heart — is needed to interrupt the irregular heartbeat. Implanted devices can regulate the heartbeat. If all other treatments fail, surgery may be required.

Congenital Heart Conditions

Congenital heart conditions that require pediatric open heart surgery include:

Congenital heart defects that may require surgery include:

Why Choose Norton Children’s Heart Institute

  • Norton Children’s Hospital has been a pioneer in pediatric cardiac surgery, performing Kentucky’s first pediatric heart transplant in 1986 and becoming the second site in the United States to perform an infant heart transplant.
  • The American Board of Thoracic Surgery has certified our Cardiac surgeons in congenital heart surgery.
  • The Adult Congenital Heart Association has accredited Norton Children’s Heart Institute’s Adult Congenital Heart Program as the only comprehensive care center in Kentucky and Indiana treating adults born with a heart defect.
  • More than 17,000 children a year visit Norton Children’s Heart Institute for advanced heart care.
  • Norton Children’s Heart Institute has offices across Kentucky and Southern Indiana to bring quality pediatric heart care closer to home.
  • The Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Norton Children’s Hospital is the largest dedicated CICU in Kentucky, equipped with 17 private rooms and the newest technology available for heart care.
  • Norton Children’s Hospital is the only Level I Children’s Surgery Center in Kentucky or Southern Indiana, as verified by the American College of Surgeons Children’s Surgery Verification Quality Improvement Program.
  • Medicaid and most major commercial insurance plans accepted.
  • Communicate with your child’s provider, manage prescriptions, make appointments and get alerts if an earlier visit becomes available through your free Norton MyChart account.

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