Heart surgery in children is usually required for repairing defects in the heart. Sometimes children are born with these defects and sometimes they are developed after birth. In both cases, surgery will be required. Pediatric Cardiac Surgery deals with operative procedures in new born and unborn children suffering from cardiac dysfunctions, structural, functional and rhythm related issues. It often deals with heart problems such as structural defects, congenital arrhythmias and cardiomyopathies which result in different kinds of abnormalities related to the heart
Here are some of the major types of cardiac defects in children:
Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)– Atrial Septal Defect is most commonly referred to as a hole in the heart. It is a type of a congenital heart defect in which there is an abnormal opening in the dividing wall between the upper filling chambers of the heart – called as atria. ASDs are diagnosed and treated successfully with few or no complications. When such a defect is present, blood flows through the hole primarily from the left atrium to the right atrium. This kind of shunting increases the blood volume in the right atrium which means more blood flows through the lungs than normal. Well, if this condition is left untreated, it may cause greater problems in adulthood. Some of the problems may include pulmonary hypertension, congestive heart failure, atrial arrhythmias and an increased risk of stroke.
Ventricular Septal Defect – This condition includes a hole in the wall of the heart between the right ventricle and the left ventricle. Normally, blood should not pass between the two sides of the heart. Some of the oxygen rich blood leaks from the left ventricle into the right ventricle and then goes back into the lungs. Sometimes this hole is small and does not cause any serious problems with the blood flow. However, if the hole is large, it results in too much blood being pumped into the lungs, leading to congestive heart failure. Further, the heart will have to work harder to pump the blood into the body. As a result, the heart may enlarge in some cases.
Fallot’s Tetralogy – Tetralogy means fourfold. This essentially means that there are four defects found altogether:
Pulmonary stenosis – means narrowing at or below the pulmonary valve.
Ventricular septal defect is a defect in the wall between the right and left sides of the heart.
Over-riding aorta – where the aorta allows the right ventricle to pump some blue blood directly into it.
Right ventricular hypertrophy – where right ventricle becomes thickened as it forces some blood into the narrowed pulmonary artery.
There are various procedures used in fixing congenital defects of the heart in children.
Open heart surgery is usually done under general anaesthesia. An incision is made through the breast bone and tubes are used to re-route the blood with a heart-lung bypass machine. Thoracotomy is used when the incision is made on the side of the chest, between the ribs. This is also called as closed heart surgery.
It is important to understand the types of heart ailments and the treatments available.