Congenital Heart Specialists

Sunrise Children's Hospital offers one of the largest pediatric heart care programs in the western U.S. Our pediatric heart doctors treat infants, children and young adults from Las Vegas, Nevada and the Southwest region of the country.

Find a congenital heart specialist

To find a pediatric heart specialist at Sunrise Children's Hospital, please call (702) 961-5021.

Sunrise Children's Hospital: Heart Program

What makes us amazing together? Our physicians—including pediatric cardiologists and cardiac surgeons—nurses and support staff, along with our advanced technologies and treatments, make us amazing together.

We work together to provide comprehensive, family-centered care for your child. Kids come in all shapes and sizes, which is why we offer "right-sized" heart care for your child—the right-sized equipment, resources and specialists to meet your child's specific needs. So, whether your newborn needs surgery minutes after delivery or your teenager is coming in for a follow-up procedure, your child's care is at the heart of everything we do.

To request a second opinion from a pediatric cardiologist at Sunrise Children's Hospital, please call (702) 961-5021.

Features of our pediatric cardiology program

Services and features of our pediatric heart care program include:

  • The only children's hospital in the region with the ability to perform pediatric open heart surgery
  • The only hospital in Nevada to offer electrophysiology procedures to pediatric patients
  • The only pediatric cardiac catheterization lab in southern Nevada
  • A 14-bed pediatric cardiac intensive care unit (PCICU) with a highly trained and specialized care team
  • Fetal Heart Program
  • Hybrid heart procedures, which combine the benefits of interventional catheterization and surgery
  • 72-bed Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  • Bar coding and smart pump technology for safe medication administration
  • Dedicated inpatient pediatric pharmacy with pharmacists and technicians who prepare medications only for kids

Pediatric congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease is the most common type of birth abnormality, and it affects about 1 percent of births in the U.S. Congenital heart abnormalities, or “defects,” happen during the earliest weeks of pregnancy when the heart is developing. In most cases, the cause of an abnormality is unknown, so it cannot be prevented.

Fetal Heart Program

Sometimes, congenital heart diseases can be identified before your baby is born. You may be referred to our Fetal Heart Program for a fetal echocardiogram if your doctor suspects a heart abnormality during a prenatal ultrasound.

A fetal echocardiogram is a special type of ultrasound that allows doctors to diagnose heart abnormalities while the baby is still in the womb.

Types of pediatric heart disease we treat

An abnormality to the structure of the heart can create structural heart diseases. Our pediatric heart doctors treat the following structural heart diseases in children:

  • Conditions that occur when too much blood passes through the lungs:
    • Atrial septal defect (ASD)
    • Atrioventricular canal defect (AV canal)
    • Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)
    • Ventricular septal defect (VSD)
  • Conditions that occur when too little blood passes through the lungs:
    • Pulmonary atresia (PA)
    • Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF)
    • Transposition of the great arteries (TGA)
    • Tricuspid atresia (TA)
  • Conditions that occur when too little blood passes through the body:
    • Aortic stenosis (AS)
    • Coarctation of the aorta (COA)
    • Pulmonary stenosis (PS)
    • Total anomalous venous connection (TAPRV)
  • Conditions that involve more than one abnormality:
    • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS)
    • Truncus arteriosus

Acquired heart disease in children

Unlike congenital heart defects, acquired heart diseases occur after your child is born. Some acquired heart diseases can be prevented by seeing your child’s doctor when you recognize signs and symptoms. Two commonly diagnosed conditions include rheumatic heart disease and Kawasaki disease.

Rheumatic heart disease develops from rheumatic fever, which is caused by the same bacteria as strep throat. Rheumatic fever affects children between 5 and 15 years old and can potentially cause permanent damage to the heart valves.

Kawasaki disease usually affects children 5 years old and younger. It causes inflammation of blood vessels, which can damage coronary arteries and potentially lead to aneurysms and/or heart attacks. While Kawasaki disease is not preventable, a quick recovery is possible when it is detected early.

Pediatric heart arrhythmia

A heart arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat, meaning the heart is beating too fast, too slow or in an irregular pattern. Arrhythmias may be present at birth or caused by a birth defect, and they can even occur with a normal, healthy heart.

Children may get arrhythmias when they have a chemical imbalance, infection or disease or when taking certain medications. Our doctors will determine if a heart arrhythmia is present, and if so, they will work with you to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

Signs of an irregular heartbeat in children

For the body to function normally, the correct amount of blood needs to be supplied throughout the body. When the heart is not beating normally, it is not pumping the right amount of blood to the body, which can cause children to be tired, dizzy, weak and lightheaded.

Types of heart arrhythmias

The two types of heart arrhythmias are bradycardias and tachycardias.

Bradycardias occur when the heart beats too slowly. Types of bradycardia include:

  • Heart block
  • Sick sinus syndrome

Tachycardias occur when the heart beats too fast. Types of tachycardia include:

  • Supraventricular tachycardia
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome

Diagnosing pediatric heart conditions

Your doctor may use several different imaging tests to diagnose your child's heart condition. These tests are performed at our hospital using special equipment made for children.

To help you and your child feel at ease, you may be with your child during as much of the testing process as possible. We will keep you informed during the procedure and quickly reunite you with your child once the testing is complete.

Our pediatric heart tests

Some of our heart tests include:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Diagnostic cardiac catheterization
  • Echocardiogram, including fetal echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Electrophysiology (EP) studies
  • Exercise test
  • Holter monitor
  • Lab tests
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

Treating pediatric heart conditions

Not all heart conditions require treatment, but some do. If your child requires treatment for a heart condition, your doctor will talk to you about the options. Because every child is unique and conditions can vary, we will personalize a care plan for your child, which may include one or more of the following treatments.

Medication

In some cases, the treatment plan for your child's heart condition may be medication prescribed by your doctor. 

Please remember, it is important for your child to take the medications as prescribed by your physician. Please do not start or stop a medication regimen without discussing it with your doctor.

Interventional cardiac catheterization

Sunrise Children's Hospital is equipped with a pediatric cardiac catheterization (cath) laboratory. Cardiac catheterization is a tool for observing the heart in action, and we also use it to treat congenital heart diseases.

Many heart conditions which once required surgery can now be completed in the cardiac cath lab. Some catheterization procedures are preferred over heart surgery because they are less invasive, have fewer risks and a have a shorter recovery period.

Cardiac catheterization procedures

During a cardiac catheterization, a catheter (small tube) is inserted through the skin into a blood vessel, then guided to the heart using live X-rays. Usually, the catheter entry site will be in the groin or upper arm area.

The catheter is used to deliver different diagnostic and treatment tools directly to the specific area of the heart requiring attention.

In the cath lab, our doctors can:

  • Close abnormal holes in the heart
  • Closely observe the heart structures
  • Expand narrowed passages
  • Measure blood pressure at specific locations in the heart
  • Open new passages where needed

Electrophysiology procedures

Electrophysiology (EP) focuses on the heart’s electrical system. Your child’s doctor may order an EP study to diagnose the source of abnormal electrical signals causing a heart arrhythmia.

In addition to EP studies, electrophysiology services include:

  • Cryoablation (using intense cold to destroy the sources of abnormal electrical signals)
  • Pacemaker and defibrillator implantation
  • Radiofrequency ablation (using radiofrequency to destroy the sources of abnormal electrical signals)

Electrophysiology services take place in our cardiac cath lab.

Heart surgery

For some children, surgery may be required. Open heart surgery is necessary when the heart defect cannot be repaired using a catheter procedure. Sometimes one surgery can completely repair the defect. However, in some cases, a child may need more than one surgery over the course of months and years.

Our care team is comprised of cardiovascular surgeons, cardiologists, anesthesiologists and cardiac nurses. This team, as well as our child life services staff, work closely with the intensivists, nurses and support staff in our ICUs to care for your child after their procedure.

Hybrid heart procedures

In some cases, a hybrid heart procedure may be the best treatment option for your child. Hybrid procedures combine the tools and techniques of interventional cardiology and cardiovascular surgery. Using the expertise and techniques of both interventional cardiologists and heart surgeons, we are able to treat more complex congenital heart abnormalities.