Pediatric Congenital Heart Surgery

Through the coordinated care of UNC’s pediatric cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery staffs and the UNC Maternal-Fetal Center, children with heart defects can receive state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment aimed at providing them with the opportunity to grow into healthy and active youngsters. Our goal is to provide these special children and their families a future of unlimited potential.

UNC has long been a leader in the care of pediatric patients with congenital heart disease. We offer a multidisciplinary approach to heart surgery for children, starting with fetal diagnosis and counseling during pregnancy. We perform the full range of congenital cardiac surgery, including neonatal repair of transposition of the great arteries utilizing the arterial switch procedure, primary repair of hypoplastic left heart syndrome utilizing the Norwood procedure, repair of the aortic valve pathology, including the Ross procedure, cardiac transplantation and permanent pacemaker implantation.

We have provided surgery on newborns as small as 1.6 kg (3.5 pounds). We also offer hybrid procedures for high-risk single-ventricle children in collaboration with UNC's pediatric cardiac interventionists.

Our pediatric cardiothoracic surgical team is a diverse group which includes surgeons, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. In the operating room, we have three pediatric cardiothoracic anesthesiologists who work closely with the surgeons. The pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) team in North Carolina Children's Hospital consists of specially trained medical and nursing staff who provide 24-hour care preoperatively and postoperatively in the 20-bed area. The cardiac intermediate cardiac care unit (CICC) delivers family-centered care. Rounding out the team are respiratory therapists who provide care to the children on standard ventilators, oscillators, oxygen therapy, ECMO, and nitric oxide therapy.

Surgeons

Michael R. Mill, M.D., pediatric heart surgeon

Jennifer S. Nelson, M.D., pediatric heart surgeon

Physician Assistant

Ruben Bocanegra, PA, physician assistant

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Karla Brown, CPNP-AC, pediatric nurse practitioner

How to Refer a Patient to Us

We recommend that patients be seen by a pediatric cardiologist prior to a visit with one of the UNC surgeons. The UNC pediatric cardiology office number is (919) 966-4601. They will evaluate the patient further with an echocardiogram, chest x-ray, and/or EKG. A few patients may require other tests.

If you or your patient's parents want to speak with a surgeon prior to a planned or proposed surgery, you can call (919) 966-3382 to set a date and time. For those meetings that are fact-finding meetings (or second opinions), we ask that you provide a copy of the patient’s records via fax ((919) 966-3475) or bring them with you. Please include the history and physical exam, EKG, cardiac catheterization CD with report, echo tape/CD with report, CT scans with report, medications, and any other pertinent medical information.

If you have questions, please call the pediatric nurse practitioner, Karla Brown, at (919) 966-3382.

Information for Parents and Patients

Information about care of pediatric heart patients at UNC is available here.

 

Project TICKER

Pediatric congenital heart disease patients are a high‐risk group of patients who receive care in a complex system of hospital units with a number of multidisciplinary care teams. The goal of Project TICKER (Teamwork to Improve Cardiac Kids' End Results), is to improve the quality of care of these patients at UNC Hospitals by implementing a family‐centered safe practice infrastructure incorporating teamwork training and integrated clinical pathways (ICPs).

Pediatric heart surgeon Michael Mill, MD, is a co-investigator on the project. Tina Schade Willis, MD, is principal investigator and pediatric cardiologist Scott Buck is a co-investigator. Karla Brown, RN, MSN, PNP, the nurse practitioner who cares for pediatric heart surgery patients at UNC, is an investigator.

The project will involve a partnership among the service units (i.e., pediatric intensive care, children's intermediate cardiac care, newborn critical care, and the operating room), ancillary support teams (nutrition, pharmacy, patient- and family-centered care specialists, chaplain), medical teams (cardiothoracic surgery, pediatric cardiac anesthesia, cardiology, pediatric critical care, neonatology) and pediatric congenital heart disease patients and their families.

Project TICKER is funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Read more about the project.