Pediatric Cardiac Surgery
The UNC Children’s Heart Center provides compassionate, family-centered care to the children of North Carolina and beyond. It offers comprehensive services for patients from fetus to infants, children, teens, and even adults with congenital heart defects, abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, and other cardiac-related problems. The Heart Center is led by Co-Directors Timothy M. Hoffman, MD, Chief of the Division of Cardiology and Mahesh S. Sharma, MD, Chief of Congenital Cardiac Surgery. The UNC Children’s Heart Center believes in a multidisciplinary approach, working cohesively with pediatric specialists throughout the hospital, including cardiology, surgery, anesthesia, perfusion, critical care, neonatology, and maternal-fetal medicine.
The team is composed of ten board-certified pediatric cardiologists, two board-certified congenital heart surgeons, four pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists, along with other providers capable of providing the full spectrum of care. We have a dedicated pediatric cardiac intensive care program with several committed specialists. The team also includes nursing, nutrition, respiratory therapy, pharmacy, child-life, and extracorporeal technologies.
Clinical Innovation and Advances
With the recruitment of several providers with dedicated areas of expertise, we have significantly augmented our offerings within the program.
- Center for Maternal and Infant Health at UNC: Our team of fetal cardiology specialists & maternal medicine physicians is dedicated to helping patients with high-risk pregnancies and families with medically fragile infants to navigate a complex health care system, working with them to make sure they are receiving the best care available
- Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit: A newly established unit that is ensuring that children with heart conditions are being cared for by a team of dedicated experts with advanced training
- Advanced Cardiac Imaging: Our state-of-the-art technology includes Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance imaging (CMR), Cardiac Computed Tomography Angiography (CCTA) with partnership with UNC Medical Center’s Advanced Medical Imaging Lab to create 3D images and printed heart models allowing surgeons to examine the heart from within and plan complex reconstructive procedures
- North Carolina Children’s Airway Center: We are one of the few dedicated pediatric airway centers in the region and only one in the state of North Carolina. In partnership with otolaryngology and pulmonary, pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons perform complex airway reconstructions including slide tracheoplasty procedures for long-segment tracheal stenosis and advanced airway interventions
- Advanced Therapies for Heart and Lung Failure: Our specialists provide life-saving treatments for children with end-stage heart and lung disease including mechanical bridges (artificial heart and lung technology) to heart, lung, and heart-lung transplantation. We are one of the few centers in the nation providing access to the full spectrum of pediatric cardiopulmonary transplant options and the only center in North Carolina
- Congenital Heart Valve Disease: Our surgeons have rare and unique experience in the surgical management of complex pediatric valve lesions including aortic valve repair and surgical therapy for Ebstein’s anomaly (The DaSilva Cone Procedure)
- Adult Congenital Heart Program: The Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program in conjunction with The McAllister Heart Institute provides specialized care for adults who are living with congenital heart disease. Our medical staff includes specially trained cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, nurses and technicians. The multidisciplinary team evaluates and develops a personalized treatment plan for patients who need monitoring throughout their lifetime
- The state’s first pediatric spiral slide tracheoplasty for long-segment tracheal stenosis with bronchus suis was performed by Dr. Mahesh Sharma and Dr. Lauren Kilpatrick. The condition is an anatomical problem where the child has abnormal cartilage in the airway which creates narrowing making it difficult to breathe
- First ABO-incompatible pediatric heart transplantation in UNC Children’s Hospital history: Jett’s story was a fantastic journey of survival that began with little hope during pregnancy and ends with a little boy getting the chance to not only survive but thrive
- The state’s first pediatric heart transplantation for Gitelman’s syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects kidney function, impairing the kidney’s ability to reabsorb salt
Results That Matter
The ultimate test for teams who provide care for the most critically ill patients afflicted with congenital heart disease is the overall procedural outcomes. Recently, we began public reporting our outcomes data through the Society for Thoracic Surgeons to maintain full transparency and assist in helping parents select the best possible care for their children.
Our neonatal, infant, pediatric, and adult congenital cardiac surgery (STAT 1-5) overall STS index mortality: 2%
This means that of all children operated on at UNC from June 2018 to date, including those with less complicated heart conditions to those with the most severe forms of congenital heart disease, 98% of our patients survived their procedures and were able to leave the hospital. Not only is this the highest survival rate for congenital heart surgery in our program’s history, but the outcomes are also better than the national average.
Our team was able to achieve a 100% post-transplant survival rate in pediatric patients during the same time period has performed an unprecedented number of pediatric heart transplants.
Our Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Team
Advanced Practice Providers
How to make an appointment
We recommend that your child be seen by a pediatric cardiologist prior to your visit with the surgeon. 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.
Information for parents
What do I need to know before my child’s heart surgery? Frequently asked questions.
While you are in the hospital you will hear some words and phrases which may be unfamiliar but are frequently used. Here are some of the terms and phrases.
About North Carolina Children’s Hospital
Your child will be treated in North Carolina Children’s Hospital. Here is some information about the hospital:
Directions to the pediatric clinic: We see pediatric cardiac surgery patients in Specialty Clinic 2 at the N.C. Children’s Hospital. Enter the N.C. Children’s Hospital (see Medical campus map, below) and turn right. Walk down the concourse until you see a check-in and waiting area under the escalator.