Congenital Heart Defects
The most common type of birth defect, a congenital heart defect is a problem with the structure of the heart that is present at birth.
At Penn State Children’s Hospital, we offer patients with congenital heart defects specialized care from a team of pediatric heart experts and a comprehensive range of services for early and accurate diagnosis and the latest treatments.
Care at Children's
At the Children’s Hospital, our patients with congenital heart defects benefit from a team approach that combines the expertise of pediatric cardiologists and cardiac surgeons with the support of pediatric intensivists, anesthesiologists, neonatologists, critical care physicians, specialized nursing staff, and other highly trained specialists.
Our survival rates for complex congenital heart cases surpass the national average and our pediatric heart surgery program is among the top 15 in the country in survival following pediatric heart operations - just two examples of the level of excellent care we provide.
We work with obstetricians and maternal-fetal medicine specialists in the community to diagnose congenital heart defects as early as possible.
Our specialists can travel to these doctors’ offices or you may visit the Children’s Hospital. If we suspect an abnormality in utero, we will perform an evaluation - most often using a fetal echocardiogram or the portable transthoracic echocardiogram. We can then determine together the best next steps for caring for your child.
Out of the 1 percent of children who are born with a congenital heart defect, about 15 percent will require surgery in their first year of life. Our cardiac surgeons are experienced with all types of congenital heart defects, including the various complex forms of single ventricle heart disease. We have outstanding clinical outcomes that exceed the national average, despite the fact that we manage more complex cases than most pediatric heart surgery programs.
We use intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) and neuromonitoring for all cases. TEE procedures assist the surgeon in monitoring the function of the heart during an operation, and help us evaluate the heart before and after surgery. Neuromonitoring assesses blood flow to the brain during open heart surgery to prevent brain injury during the procedure.
When you bring your child to the Children’s Hospital for congenital heart defect for treatment you get:
- Dedicated pediatric cardiac operating room with pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists
- Pediatric cardiac intensive care unit with pediatric critical care physicians and staff for management of patients before and after surgery
- Large staff of pediatric cardiologists including specialists in diagnostic and interventional cardiac catheterization, arrhythmia, echocardiography, cardiac MRI, and CT scan
- Pediatric cardiac catheterization laboratory adjacent to the operating room (hybrid room) for diagnostic, interventional, and electrophysiology procedures
Congenital heart defects require multidisciplinary care from many departments, including:
Our pediatric clinic is located at:
121 Nyes Road, Suite D
Harrisburg, PA 17112
Although he was born without the left ventricle of his heart, high school student Matt is keeping the beat and active in his school marching band thanks to his team at Penn State Children’s Hospital.
Groups, Classes & Support
Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other parents and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.
Learn more about pediatric support groups offered at Penn State Children’s Hospital.