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Pediatric cardiothoracic surgery is a specialty that surgically treats children with heart conditions. This specialty concerns surgical intervention for heart abnormalities, heart disease, and other disorders causing heart malfunction. It addresses both heart defects present at birth and those which develop later in childhood.
Pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons perform procedures that range from complex transplant operations to minimally invasive tissue removal. They may employ innovative surgical techniques or participate in clinical cardiothoracic trials. Some pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons diagnose children using noninvasive heart scans like electrocardiograms to map or measure the activity of the heart. They can conduct other diagnostic procedures such as a heart biopsy (extracting a tissue sample) for further analysis.
Heart disorders that a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon might treat include:
Some surgical treatments for children's heart conditions include septal myectomy (a surgery to remove thickened heart muscle), and intracardiac repair (the patching of heart chambers and repair of pulmonary vessels). Cardiac catheterization, which uses a small needle and catheter tube to navigate through the heart, is a common pediatric therapy for heart defects. Certain disorders may require the surgical implantation of a ventricular assist device (VAD), or other mechanical implants that perform critical heart functions.
Pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons monitor patient development and can perform multiple operations as children's heart conditions evolve. Pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons collaborate with cardiologists (heart doctors), primary care physicians, and pediatric anesthesiologists to develop individualized care plans.