At the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, the safest, most advanced surgical options for the treatment of congenital and acquired heart disease are available to children of any age, even the tiniest newborns. Our pediatric heart surgeons have special expertise in complex and high-risk cases — cases that in the recent past were considered inoperable. We treat problems early in an effort to reduce unnecessary complications that can arise as the child grows.

Advanced Treatment Options

Comer Children's cardiac surgeons perform the full range of surgeries to treat pediatric heart problems and congenital heart defects, including the arterial switch procedure, heart transplantation and "redo" reconstructive procedures in teens and adults who have had prior surgeries for congenital heart disease.

Selecting the Best Treatment Method

Before surgery is considered, our specialists review all of the available options to determine the best treatment for your child's heart problem. In some cases, children referred for surgery can be treated with catheter-based interventions — procedures that are less invasive than traditional surgery.

Minimally Invasive Pediatric Heart Surgery

Cardiac surgeons at the Comer Children's are able to operate on the hearts of children through tiny openings in the chest, eliminating the need for sternotomy — a large incision through the breastbone (sternum). This method of surgery, called minimally invasive cardiac surgery, is a remarkable improvement over traditional, open-chest procedures. Surgeons use sophisticated thin instruments and miniature cameras to perform the operations.

The benefits of minimally invasive surgery are sometimes the most evident in children. Because this advanced technique does not alter the breastbone and minimizes damage to healthy tissue, children have less post-surgical complications as they grow.

The benefits of minimally invasive cardiac surgery can be many, including:

  • A few small incisions, instead of a long incision through the breastbone. Minimally invasive cardiac surgery requires little or no cutting of the breastbone or ribs.
  • Less damage to tissue and muscle
  • Less pain
  • Less scarring
  • Less blood loss
  • Shorter stay in the hospital
  • Faster return to normal activities
  • Elimination of a cardiopulmonary bypass (heart-lung) machine, in some cases. By avoiding the bypass machine, patients are not exposed to the extra risks associated with bypass, such as clots.

Our team has experience treating many types of congenital and acquired heart problems using minimally invasive techniques. Some conditions successfully treated with minimally invasive surgery include:

  • Atrial septal defect
  • Mitral valve regurgitation or stenosis
  • Patent ductus arteriosus
  • Sinus venosus defect
  • Tricuspid valve regurgitation or stenosis
  • Vascular ring disorders
  • Ventricular septal defect