As the leading provider of comprehensive cardiovascular care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults in Arkansas, our pediatric specialists combine world-class expertise with state-of-the-art technology to care for our most important patient: your child. The cardiovascular program at Arkansas Children's uses our expertise to set processes for urgent and continuing needs.
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Cardiovascular Surgery at Arkansas Children's

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

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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.

Possible Conditions

Other Conditions Treated by the Heart Center

  • Anomalous Coronary Artery (ACA)
  • Aortic Stenosis
  • Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)
  • Atrioventricular Canal (AV Canal or AVC)
  • Coarctation of the Aorta
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)
  • Pulmonary Artery Stenosis
  • Pulmonary Atresia (PA)
  • Pulmonary Stenosis
  • Tricuspid Atresia (TA)
  • Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return
  • Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA)
  • Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Truncus Arteriosus
  • Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)
  • Arrhythmias in Children
  • Bacterial Endocarditis
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Eisenmenger’s Syndrome
  • Heart Murmurs 
  • Heart Rhythm Issues in Children
  • High Blood Pressure or Hypertension in Infants
  • Kawasaki Disease
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Syncope

Meet the Team

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.

The Heart Center at Arkansas Children's takes a comprehensive, team approach customized to treating your child's heart care. A large team of some of the best pediatric cardiologists and intensivists provides excellent diagnostic, interventional treatment and post-operative care to complete the world-class spectrum of support provided in the Heart Center. With tight collaboration between surgeons and cardiologists, the Heart Center at Arkansas Children's is able to provide patients and families a seamless continuum of care. The Heart Center at our hospital functions as a cohesive team to provide cardiac surgical patients with unparalleled care. You'll find its pediatric Heart Center is state-of-the-art, staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week with in-house cardiac-level intensivists. Our center is backed by a team that is totally committed to cardiac care-and our outcomes prove it.
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The pediatric cardiovascular surgical program features state-of-the-art surgical care for children and adults with congenital heart disease, balanced with utmost compassion and hope. Although our focus is on patients from the south central United States, our pediatric cardiovascular services reach beyond those boundaries to a nationwide and even international level. From the tiniest of neonates with the most complex cardiac malformations to continuing-care adults with conditions present since birth, our outcomes and results are unexcelled anywhere. 

Expert Heart Care in Arkansas for Every Child at Every Age

Caring for patients with congenital heart defects means caring for people of all ages. In fact, our successes mean there are many more adults living with congenital heart disease. This has led us to develop a new field of practice focusing on those adult survivors. Our practice includes:

  • Cardiac Care for the Unborn Child - It is not uncommon to find cardiac defects before a baby is born. A detailed ultrasound of an unborn baby may reveal a heart problem. The only specially trained fetal echocardiographers in Arkansas are at Arkansas Children's. A variety of defects and rhythm problems can be identified ahead of time so that high-risk deliveries may be anticipated. 

  • Arkansas Cardiology Care for Newborn Infants - Some newborns have defects in heart valves, holes in the walls of the heart (septal defects) or abnormal connection of large blood vessels from the heart (patent ductus arteriosus). Others have weaknesses in heart muscle, coronary arteries, and heart chambers. Still, others have lung artery abnormalities and heart murmurs. Sometimes these problems only require medication for treatment. In more severe cases, surgical intervention is necessary. 

  • Cardiac Care for Infants and Children - Older children can have many of the same problems as infants. Some need a follow-up visit with a cardiologist after having a heart operation or to correct a cardiac defect. Rarer afflictions include rheumatic fever, Kawasaki's Disease, Down's Syndrome, Marfan Syndrome or DiGeorge Syndrome. Rhythm problems, dizziness or syncope (fainting or losing consciousness) are common within this age group. 

  • Arkansas Cardiology Care for Adolescent and Adults - Heart defect cases originating in childhood are followed and cared for by pediatric cardiology doctors. This unique group of patients requires specialized knowledge of childhood heart disease as it affects them with age. This is particularly important if surgery may be needed or rhythm problems develop.

The Arkansas Children's Hospital's Cardiovascular Anesthesia team has the training and experience to focus on the specific needs of patients and manage a range of complex cardiac issues. For patients with heart disease, the pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist has a central role in coordinating team-based surgical care.

The cardiac anesthesiologist:

  • monitors physiologic parameters;
  • protects vital organ function;
  • controls blood coagulation;
  • and reduces the inflammatory response to cardiopulmonary bypass.

Each part of the surgical procedure requires specific attention, including poor heart function before transplantation, the monitoring during cardiopulmonary bypass, or assisting the patient's heart in separating from cardiopulmonary bypass. The cardiac anesthesiologist has the ability to monitor the patient's overall well-being, thereby helping to create the optimal environment for a successful cardiac repair procedure, or any other type of procedure on a cardiac patient.

Locations

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.

Possible Tests and Treatments

  • Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs)
  • Cardiac Catheterization in Children
  • Chest X-Ray 
  • CT (Computed Tomography) Scan
  • Echocardiography
  • EKG / ECG
  • Heart Transplantation
  • Holter Monitoring  |   View Instructional Video 
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Children
  • Transesophageal Echocardiography
  • Ultrafast / Electron Beam CT Scan

Your Visit to Arkansas Children’s Heart Center

We know each patient and family has unique needs so we tailor our services for personalized care. Whether you're from out-of-town, out-of-state or traveling internationally for treatment, we have an entire team of specialists to help.

Each step of the way at the Heart Center, our team assists patients and family members in understanding both the short term care, including diagnosis and treatment, but also follow up care and careful monitoring to help our young patients get better today and be healthier tomorrow. We communicate and motivate toward success at all phases of care, including:

  • Multi-disciplinary pre-operative clinic
  • Consults with physician specialists and heart surgeons, as needed
  • Post-procedure care
  • Team care

Cardiac Surgery Center: What to expect during your pre-operative visit.

Surgery can be scary for our young patients and their families, so we have created this informative video to help answer questions about what to expect during your pre-operative visit.

Cardiac Surgery Center Pre-Op Video

Support Across Arkansas Children’s

The Heart Center at Arkansas Children’s helps overcome barriers a family may face when caring for loved ones. From assistance finding short or long-term housing, optimal scheduling of appointments, arranging transportation, meal assistance and interpreter services – our goal is to help make your visit as uncomplicated as possible. 

In addition to our advanced and high-tech care, we offer services to make your stay more pleasant – for both children and parents alike. Our telemetry care provides ECG monitoring by radio waves so patients who require monitoring of their heart rhythm can move around in the hallways and play areas without remaining attached to a heart monitor. The Center also includes a playroom for children of all ages including a wide variety of stations, movies, video games and a computer with controlled Internet access.

Family-Centered Approach

We approach every aspect of heart care - from your initial diagnosis through treatment – and even including long term care management, if necessary, from a family perspective. Arkansas Children’s believes in a model of care that motivates kids toward optimal health through safe, high quality and comprehensive medical care. We support each patient and family member with:

  • Compassion
  • Respect
  • Collaboration
  • Support
  • Advocacy
Family Support Services for Assistance When Needed

Our team provides Family Support Services to provide assistance to patients and family members, when needed. We offer a range of services and specialists, including Child Life Specialists, Chaplains, Pet Therapists and Music Therapists that help families manage the various steps of care, answer questions or help with any unexpected issues. We’re here to help – both with medical concerns or help explain our programs or processes.

Arkansas Children’s entire team of pediatric heart specialists work together for improved outcomes (results). Safety is a core value and top priority at Arkansas Children’s. This is the philosophy behind our quality improvement movement, Make Zero Happen: Know Harm. No Harm.

Arkansas Children’s Heart Institute has the only children’s heart surgery program in Arkansas. We’ve performed thousands of heart surgeries since the program began.

  • 1959 – First pediatric cardiologist was hired at ACH
  • 1981 – First full-time heart surgeon began the surgical program
  • 1990 – Heart transplant program began

We’re pleased to share our volumes (number of surgeries/procedures done) and outcomes (results of treatment) to help parents and families make informed decisions about their child’s care.

Heart Institute Volumes 2016

Diagnostic Testing and Cardiac Imaging

Echocardiograms 9,192
Electrocardiograms 6,910
Outside electrocardiograms 2,329
Outside echocardiograms 1,865
Holter Monitors 1,241
Fetal echocardiograms 802
Cardiac CT 150
Cardiac MRI 147

Cardiovascular Anesthesia

Cath Lab 498 TOTAL
1,278
Cardiac Surgery 383
Cardiac Anesthesia in Non-Cardiac Location 206
Cardiac Radiology 119
Procedures 72

Cardiac Cath Procedures

Interventional Caths 158 TOTAL
459
Diagnostic Caths 103
Biopsy Cardiac Caths 101
EP Studies and Ablation Procedures 64
Pacemaker and Defibrillator Implants 33

Cardiology Outpatient Clinic Visits

Little Rock 7,841 TOTAL
9,607
Lowell 1,127
Jonesboro 299
Fort Smith 199
Texarkana 141

Heart Institute Outcomes 2012-2016

The blue bar represents ACH survival rates and the red bar represents the Society of Thoracic Surgeons’ (STS) national averages, which medical centers can use to compare.

Heart Institute Outcomes 2012-2016

CoA – Coarctation of the Aorta; TOF – Tetrology of Fallot; ASO – Arterial switch operation

Cardiology stories and resources help parents and families prepare for effective care at home.
 

Everest's Story - Climbing Mountains and Living Up to Her Name

There are many types of heart defects and our expert team of heart specialists at Arkansas Children's provides care for a comprehensive list of heart defects and conditions. Some are called “critical congenital heart disease” or CCHD. CCHD may occur when a baby’s heart or major blood vessels do not form properly. A “critical” heart defect is one that needs urgent treatment in order to have the best outcome for the baby. Treatment can include medical and surgical procedures. Learn more about CCHD by visiting the links below.

Other Resources

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.

Major Benefits

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.

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