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Heart Conditions & Treatments

We treat a wide range of complex heart conditions in children, including: 

We have the longest running pediatric heart transplant program in the region. Find out more about heart transplants.

Treatment Options

Cardiopulmonary Bypass

This technique temporarily takes over the function of the heart and lungs during surgery, allowing surgeons to stop the heart and operate in a bloodless field. The surgeon then re-starts the heart and removes the cardiopulmonary bypass, which allows the heart and lungs to regain normal function.

At UVA, we have significantly modified and miniaturized our bypass circuit to reduce the amount of blood and transfusions children receive during heart surgery.

Heart Rhythm Surgery

Occasionally, a child or infant’s heart has an abnormal rhythm that requires the surgical insertion of specific devices such as pacemakers, event recorders or internal cardioverter defibrillators.

At UVA, our pediatric heart surgeons and their teams have extensive experience with the Berlin Heart, a total artificial heart used in children with severe heart failure.

Pacemakers

Pacemakers can treat a very slow heart rate. They may be useful in some patients with other conditions, including:

  • Familial long QT syndrome
  • Hypertrophic or dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Heart transplant (aftercare)

Event Recorders

An implantable event recorder, also known as an implantable loop recorder, is a device that records your child’s heart rhythm for up to 14 months. It's the best way to record very serious rhythm problems that rarely occur. 

The surgeon places this device under the skin through a minor operation. The recorded heart rhythms can be displayed and printed later by a special instrument used by your pediatric cardiologist.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

ECMO provides both cardiac and respiratory support while the heart and lungs recover during certain critical illnesses.

Ventricular assist devices (VADs)

VADs can partially or completely replace the function of a failing heart while your child waits for a heart transplant. 

Cardioverter Defibrillators

Internal cardioverter defibrillators are devices that deliver a small shock to keep the heart beating in a normal rhythm.

Pictures of the Heart: MRI

We have some of the latest techniques and newest technologies available for scanning the structure of your child's heart.

Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offers your child several advantages:

  • It doesn’t require surgery
  • It doesn’t use radiation
  • It gives clearer, more detailed images than echocardiographies

At UVA, we'll work with you before and after the scan to make sure you understand your child's results.