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The Arkansas Children's Heart Center's cardiovascular surgery team strives for the early and complete repair of congenital heart malformations with the latest technological advances with some of the best pediatric cardiovascular surgeons available anywhere. Our family-centered care environment is the foundation of personal, human relationships with our patients and families.Meet the team
The extracorporeal life support (ECLS) program at Arkansas Children's Hospital is one of the most advanced in the nation. The ECLS program incorporates cutting edge technology with the highest level of teamwork to provide life-saving support for the most critically ill children. At Arkansas Children's Hospital, ECLS includes the use of both ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) and VAD (ventricular assist device) support.
As the only program in Arkansas dedicated to pediatric cardiology, specialists at Arkansas Children’s Heart Center diagnose and treat a comprehensive list of both acquired and congenital heart diseases and conditions.
With a multidisciplinary team approach to care, our specialists work together across all pediatric disciplines for the best care plan for your child. Care is coordinated through diagnosis, imaging, treatment, aftercare and follow-up monitoring. Critically important for children with congenital heart disease, we help transition patients to our Adult Congenital Heart Disease Clinic for long-term success.
Sometimes needed for diagnosis or follow-up care, your care team at Arkansas Children’s Heart Center may schedule initial or additional tests and procedures.
Transparency in health care includes sharing easy-to-understand quality and outcome information with the public. Our families deserve to know this information when making health care decisions for their children. The Arkansas Children’s Heart Center stands by the quality care we provide to patients and families in Arkansas and around the region.
Common Terms Used in Outcomes Information
Benchmark: a comparison or compared to
STS: All of our outcomes are benchmarked against the STS National Database. STS is The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), and their national database was created as a quality improvement initiative for patient safety in cardiothoracic surgery. Considered the gold standard of registries, more than 1,000 physicians submit data to the collaborative, creating a robust wealth of data for benchmarking.
Benchmark Procedures: Certain operations are called benchmark operations which means heart centers use them to compare outcomes with other centers.
HIGHER IS BETTER
Why is this important? This information shows case volumes (operations) over a 4-year period for key benchmark operations. STS considers ACH a high-volume surgical center with a large enough volume to ensure experience in treating all congenital cardiac lesions. The more operations we do, the more experience we have, and experience is the key to good outcomes.
HIGHER IS BETTER
What does this mean? This information shows survival after surgical treatment of key benchmark operations over a 4-year period and compares the ACH experience to the STS average. ACH meets or exceeds survival outcomes in all key areas when compared to the STS average.
MORTALITY LOWER IS BETTER
Why is this important? STAT score is assigned to each surgical procedure. It is a tool designed to analyze risk for mortality based on the complexity of each case. This graph shows the number of overall cases performed per STAT category compared to the mortality that occurred. STAT 5 represents the most complex cases. ACH has some of the LOWEST mortality rates compared to other centers of similar size and operations performed.
LOWER IS BETTER
What does this mean? Cross clamp time is the time in minutes during which the aorta is occluded (closed off) to allow surgical repair. During this time, oxygenated blood flow is stopped to the tissues being repaired. The higher the cross-clamp time, the higher the risk of complication. ACH cross clamp times are consistently well below the STS average. This means our team has the skill to quickly and safely do the operation, resulting in better outcomes for the patient.
LOWER IS BETTER
Why is this important? On average, our patient’s post-operative total length of stay across all categories is shorter at ACH compared to other national sites. Less time in the hospital means more time at home with family.
HIGHER IS BETTER
What does this mean? A long history of consistent volumes of cardiac catheterization (cath) procedures, including diagnostic, interventional, and electrophysiology cases, provide our teams with the right experience to ensure exceptional outcomes. Our team performs more than 600 cath lab cases each year. Again, experience is key to good outcomes.
ACH cath space includes two state-of-the-art biplane cath labs, including a hybrid catheterization lab, which allows our interventional cardiologists to work side-by-side with our cardiothoracic surgeons. The combined expertise of these two specialties provides a less invasive option to deal with some of our more complex heart defects. The cath labs also provide a space for our electrophysiologist to address problems with the heart's electrical system, including electrophysiology studies to diagnose and ablate abnormal electrical pathways and minimally invasive implantation of pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs).
What is Beads of Courage®?
Beads of Courage is a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt organization dedicated to helping children with serious illness record, tell, and own their stories of survival. When children undergo treatment for serious illnesses, needle sticks, x-rays and hospital stays are all painful episodes to be endured. Beads of Courage is a program that awards these brave patients with beads to represent each milestone. Through this program, children are able to tell their story using colorful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones they have achieved.
Initially created to help children endure cancer treatment, the program has since been modified to also reach patients with cardiac conditions. Patients receive a necklace with their name and a bead symbolizing the cardiac program. With every milestone in a patient's treatment, beads are added to help tell a story of understanding, acceptance, and survival unique to each child's journey. These colorful beads are worn proudly by patients or their families as a symbol of courage. They are a constant reminder to take each procedure one day at a time. These beads bring energy and excitement to patients and families.
Ongoing evaluation of the Beads of Courage program indicates that the program helps to decrease illness-related distress, increase the use of positive coping strategies, helps children find meaning in illness, and restore a sense of children coping with serious illness. The program also provides something tangible the child can use to tell about their experience during treatment and after.
For more information or to make a donation email us: CVICUbeadsofcourage@archildrens.org.
Congenital heart defects are the most common of all birth defects, occurring at a rate of approximately eight cases per 1,000 live births.