Skip to content

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Congenital Heart Defects - Surgery

Surgery is done for more complex defects or when catheterization cannot correct the defect. Or your child might need a combination of surgery and catheterization to fix a defect. The kind of surgery will depend on what defect the child has.

Some congenital heart defects can be completely repaired with one surgery. Defects that are more complex often require several surgeries over time.

Recommended Related to Heart Disease

Do You Really Need Bypass Surgery?

It's the news you don't want to hear from your cardiologist: One or more of your coronary arteries -- the blood vessels that supply blood to your heart -- is blocked. You have coronary artery disease, the No. 1 killer of U.S. adults. So does this mean you're headed for bypass surgery? Maybe not, if your situation isn't an emergency. You might have other options -- including less drastic procedures to reopen those arteries, medication alone, or even radical lifestyle change. What's your best option?...

Read the Do You Really Need Bypass Surgery? article > >

Preparing for surgery

Prepare yourself for what to expect at the hospital. It may be shocking to see your newborn or child hooked up to so many machines and tubes.

If your child is older, you can help your child feel more comfortable and secure by preparing him or her for what to expect. Your child's doctor or the hospital staff can help you prepare your child. Encourage your child to ask questions. And let him or her talk to the doctors too.

For more tips, see:

Surgery choices

In general, the types of surgery are:

  • Closing holes or blood vessels that have either formed or not closed. Usually, a patch or stitches are used.
  • Widening arteries.
  • Repairing or replacing valves that are too tight or that leak too much.
  • Returning the aorta or pulmonary arteries to the right position.

In rare cases, a heart transplant may be needed.

The type of surgery depends on the type of defect and the surgeon's preference.

What to think about

If a young baby (for example, newborn to age 3 months) has a life-threatening defect, surgery may be needed right away. For some defects, the best time for surgery is before the child is 2 years old. For other defects, the best time may be between the ages of 2 and 4.

In some cases, surgery may be done when a child is older. Surgery may be delayed if the defect is likely to heal on its own.

Some types of surgery are more invasive and take longer to recover from than others. Even after surgery, your child may still have symptoms such as weakness and a bluish tint (cyanosis) to the skin, lips, and nail beds.

After surgery, it's possible for symptoms to return or for complications to develop later. In these cases, more surgeries also may be needed.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    x-ray of human heart
    A visual guide.
    atrial fibrillation
    Symptoms and causes.
     
    heart rate graph
    10 things to never do.
    heart rate
    Get the facts.
     
    empty football helmet
    Article
    red wine
    Video
     
    eating blueberries
    Article
    Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
    Slideshow
     
    Inside A Heart Attack
    SLIDESHOW
    Omega 3 Sources
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Salt Shockers
    SLIDESHOW
    lowering blood pressure
    SLIDESHOW