A congenital heart defect is a condition in which a child is born with a problem with the structure of the heart. Some heart defects are simple and do not require treatment, while others are more complicated and may require surgery to correct to accommodate growth and circulation needs. Common symptoms of congenital heart defects may include but not be limited to:
Skin tone looking pale blue or dusky
Fatigue with eating
Shortness of breath
Most Common Pediatric Congenital Heart Defects
Patent ductus arterosis - this condition describes the opening in a normally closed doc that moves oxygenated blood through the aorta and into the pulmonary artery. The opening allows blood to mix with blood going to the lungs. A heart murmur and shortness of breath are often its only symptoms, and treatment is performed through non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or surgery to close the opening in the duct when the child's is six to nine months of age.
Ventricular septal defect - also known as a hole in the heart, the holes are usually found in walls between pumping chambers, that allow oxygenated blood to flow between chambers, in this case the right ventricle, and cause an excess of blood to go to the lungs. Ventricular septal defect is the most common pediatric congenital heart defect and while the mild cases eventually resolve on their own, surgery may be required when the child is two or three years of age if it does not. In such cases, a patch is placed over the hole in the heart
Coarctation of the aorta - this congenital defect defines a narrowing of a portion of the aorta, the body's main artery. The condition causes a decrease in blood flow. Surgery may be required before the infant is two weeks of age to remove the narrowed section, and joining two normal sized sections of artery. In other cases, surgery may be delayed until the child is between two and four years of age.
Transposition of the great vessels - this congenital heart defect involves the reversal in the positioning of the pulmonary and aorta arteries, which results in the return of oxygenated blood to the lungs rather than to the body. Surgery is required before the infant is two weeks old in order to restore proper blood flow through the creation of a hole in the septum. Another surgical procedure may be required at approximately 5 years of age to reposition and/or to create artificial blood vessels.
Most Congenital Heart Defects are placed into categories, which include:
Holes in the heart, either between the heart chambers or major blood vessels
Obstructed blood flow, such as pulmonary stenosis, caused by a narrowing of the heart valves
Abnormal blood vessels, this is created when the great vessels become transposed and are on the wrong side of the heart
Heart Valve Abnormalities (an example would include Ebstein’s anomaly, in which the tricuspid valve in the right ventricle is malformed and leaks, creating abnormal blood flow to the lungs).
Some children may have one or more defects at a time. An example of this would be the condition known as the Tetralogy of Fallot, where four defects are present. This includes a hole in the heart septum, a narrowed passage between the right ventricle and pulmonary artery, thick muscle of the right ventricle and a abnormal connection from the heart to the aorta.
Cost of cardiac procedures
Depending on the type of procedure or surgery that is performed, cardiac surgeries will have widely differing price ranges. However, they are among the most expensive surgical procedures performed in the United States.
Finding a Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon
Pediatric cardiac surgeons must meet basic requirements and training for certification in various cardiac fields and techniques, as well as specialties. A cardiac surgery resident may stand anywhere from five to ten years training to become a fully qualified surgeon in cardiac surgery and procedures. Cardio thoracic surgeons typically complete a five-year general surgery residency, followed by two to three years of specialization in cardiothoracic surgeries. Various licensing boards that certify surgeons in cardiac surgery as well as subspecialties differ per country of origin. When looking for qualified cardiac surgeons in any country, look to national and statewide boards, associations, and memberships in specific cardiovascular specialties.
Pediatric Treatment -
Pediatrics is a field of medicine that specifically focuses on children. This age group ranges from infants to 18 years old and involves the study, treatment and surgical procedures performed on children. A physician who treats children is called a pediatrician while a specialist performing surgery on children in any field may be called a pediatric surgeon.
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