Pediatric Heart Surgeons: What They Do As Children’s Doctors

Parents who have given birth to infants with congenital heart problems often feel at a loss. They know they will get the referrals they need from their children's doctor to see a pediatric specialist, but most parents are unaware of what a pediatric heart surgeon does or can do. The following illustrates the special care these doctors give their smallest patients.

Training and Education

Pediatric heart surgeons often operate on children and infants, some of which have hearts no bigger than a tangerine when they are born. Various defects can cause children to have their hearts on the outside of their chests, or hearts that are missing a valve, atrium or ventricle. A very rare disorder even causes the large artery and vein that travel into the heart to develop in the opposite positions and connections from where they are supposed to be. All of these disorders and more are part of the advanced education, training and specialization of pediatric heart surgeons.

Work Stations

Children's heart doctors work in hospitals, and more importantly, children's specialty hospitals. These child-focused hospitals may be attached to an adult hospital, or they are stand-alone facilities just for the care of children. The heart surgeons can be called into the delivery wing of the hospital next door to help with newborns who receive a diagnosis in utero of a congenital defect. Their surgeries are often held in a separate surgical wing of the children's hospital, which is designed with kid-friendly images and smaller operating rooms for smaller patients.

Working with Highly Specialized Operating Equipment

These doctors spend their lives working with equipment that ranges from infinitesimally small for newborns to standard adult size for older teens. They see venous catheters that are barely a millimeter or two wide, and have heart monitors for preemies. Trained on all of these machines and equipment for children's pulmonary and cardiovascular needs, you can rest assured that your child's pediatric heart surgeon like one from Pediatric Associates of Alexandria knows exactly how to help your child.

Lifelong Patients

Many patients that a pediatric heart surgeon treats from infancy he or she will treat until the patients are adults. Somewhere along the way, the children with lesser complicated heart problems will transition over to just a standard pediatrician or family doctor, who will continue to monitor the children's hearts for any issues. Other children with more severe heart problems will see their pediatric heart surgeon for several surgeries and possibly a heart transplant or two until they are fully grown.