Pediatric heart surgery is executed to repair heart defects that children are born with (congenital heart defects) or heart diseases a child develops after birth. This surgery is compulsory for the well-being of the child.
There are many kinds of heart defects. Defects can occur inside the heart or outside the heart in the large blood vessels. Some defects in the heart may need surgery immediately after the child is born. For some, it may be suitable to wait safely for months or years to have surgery.
In some cases, one surgery may be enough to repair the heart defect. However, sometimes a series of procedures are needed.
In general, symptoms that indicate a child is a good candidate for surgery:
· Blue or gray skin, lips, and nail beds (cyanosis). These symptoms mean there is not enough oxygen in the blood (hypoxia).
· Trouble breathing due to congested lungs, or fluid-filled (heart failure)
· Problems with the child's heart rate or heart rhythm (arrhythmias)
· Poor feeding or sleeping, and lack of growth and development of a child
Open-heart surgery is when a heart-lung bypass machine is used and an incision is made through the breastbone (sternum) by the surgeon while the child is under general anesthesia. Then tubes are used to re-route the blood through a special pump machine. This 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.
Open-heart surgery is aided by a heart-lung bypass machine. An incision is made through the breastbone (sternum) by the surgeon while the child is under general anesthesia. Tubes are used to re-route the blood through a special pump machine. This adds oxygen to the blood and keeps the blood warm and moving throughout the rest of the body while the surgeon is repairing the heart.
This machine allows the heart to be stopped. Stopping the heart makes it possible to repair the heart muscle and heart valves, or the blood vessels outside the heart. Once the repair is complete, the pump is removed, the heart starts to beat and the incision is sutured.
For some heart defect repairs, the incision is made on the side of the chest, between the ribs. This is referred to as thoracotomy. It is also called closed-heart surgery, which is assisted by image-guided instruments.
Another way to fix defects in the heart is to insert small tubes into an artery in the leg and pass them up to the heart. This type of surgery is rare.