Congenital heart care at Sunrise Children’s Hospital

We know caring for a loved one with congenital (present at birth) heart disease can create anxiety and concern for families, no matter how simple or complex. Our congenital heart program at Sunrise Children's Hospital offers peace of mind by ensuring family-centered, high-quality treatment options for newborns, infants, children, adolescents and adults with congenital heart disease.

As one of the most extensive pediatric heart care programs in the western U.S., our team provides care for patients from Las Vegas, Nevada, and the Southwest region. Our dedicated, highly specialized team personally provides one-on-one, individualized care to your loved one, from diagnosis through the lifetime of care.

Our patients come in all shapes and sizes, which is why we offer "right-sized" heart care. Whether your newborn needs surgery minutes after delivery or your teenager is coming in for a follow-up procedure, we have the equipment, resources and specialists necessary to meet your loved one’s specific needs. Combined with leading-edge services and advanced treatment options, providing compassionate care is at the heart of everything we do.

Features of our congenital heart program

You and your family have access to an array of benefits and advanced services through our heart program, including:

  • 14-bed Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU)
  • 24-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
  • 72-bed Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  • Bar coding and smart pump technology for safe medication administration
  • Dedicated inpatient pediatric pharmacy with clinical pediatric pharmacists and technicians
  • Hybrid heart procedures, which combine the benefits of interventional catheterization and surgery
  • Pediatric and neonatal Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Program
  • Pediatric and neonatal transport team
  • Pediatric cardiac anesthesia
  • 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

Fetal Heart Program

Sometimes, your doctor can identify congenital heart diseases 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 allowing doctors to diagnose heart abnormalities while the baby is still in the womb.

Cardiac intensive care

Sunrise Children's Hospital pediatric Cardiac ICU nurses station

At Sunrise Children’s Hospital, our Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) provides superior heart care to patients of all ages. When your child needs to be hospitalized, we do everything we can to make them comfortable and deliver expert care with compassion.

The high-tech rooms in the CICU adapt to your loved one’s specific needs and level of care, and at least one cardiac intensive care physician is present 24/7. Additionally, the CICU brings the expertise and knowledge of a highly skilled multidisciplinary team specially trained in congenital heart care.

The team meets daily for multidisciplinary rounds to discuss and personalize each patient’s plan of care. The CICU team welcomes families to join us in these daily rounds to review and discuss your child’s care.

To further accommodate families in the CICU, we provide:

  • A dedicated waiting room with a refrigerator for family use as well as complimentary coffee, tea, water and snacks
  • Large private rooms and a dedicated family space to support at least one parent, guardian or support person at their child’s bedside 24/7
  • Private shower for families with linens available
  • Quiet room for families to relax and have a private conversation with the care team when needed

Family-centered care

We understand the importance of family presence to help take some of the stress out of a hospital stay experience, whether it is a short visit for an outpatient procedure or a longer hospitalization.

Our pediatric surgery team provides special care with a family-centered focus throughout your loved one’s stay. We offer a primary waiting area and a child-friendly waiting area with various activities. Our approach to care ensures parents, guardians and support persons can stay with their loved one up until the moment they leave for the operating room. While your loved one is in surgery, the team provides updates throughout the process. Once surgery is complete, we reconnect you with your loved one as soon as possible.

For families living outside of the greater Las Vegas area, the Ronald McDonald House Charities Greater Las Vegas provides housing and support services on or off campus during your loved one’s stay.

Our expert physicians and specialists

The congenital heart team at Sunrise Children's Hospital is made up of an integrated team of highly trained specialists working together to ensure your child receives the most advanced and comprehensive care possible.

Some of the specialists who may be part of your child’s care team include:

Congenital cardiac surgeons

Our congenital heart (cardiac) surgeons have specialized knowledge, training and experience surgery to treat or fix a condition your child was born with or acquired. Our heart surgeons are board-certified in general surgery, thoracic and cardiac surgery and congenital heart surgery.

Find a congenital cardiac surgeon

Pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists

When your loved one has to go under anesthesia, it may be concerning, especially when being treated for a heart condition. Our dedicated pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists coordinate with congenital heart surgeons and other cardiac specialists to ensure your child is safe at all times.

Pediatric cardiologists

Our pediatric cardiologists are board-certified in pediatrics and board-certified or board-eligible in pediatric cardiology. Using specialized knowledge, training and expertise, our pediatric cardiologist identifies if your loved one has a condition affecting their heart.

Find a pediatric cardiologist

Pediatric electrophysiologists

Our pediatric electrophysiologists are here to ensure your loved one receives the proper treatment if they have any abnormalities of the electrical conducting system.

Find a pediatric electrophysiologist

Pediatric interventional cardiologists

Our pediatric interventional cardiologists are here to stabilize or fix identified problems with the blood vessels of the heart or within the heart. Our pediatric interventional cardiologist uses top of the line equipment and always puts your loved one first while in their care.

Find a pediatric interventional cardiologist

Pediatric cardiac intensivists

Pediatric cardiac intensivists are specially trained and board-certified physicians who treat children with complex congenital and acquired heart issues. Intensivists coordinate the multidisciplinary team to manage preoperative and postoperative surgical care for patients undergoing congenital heart surgery and catheter interventions. Intensivists also manage patients with complex arrhythmias, heart failure, pulmonary hypertension and patients requiring ECMO support.

Neonatologists

Our neonatologists are all board-certified in neonatal medicine and some of our neonatologists are double board-certified in pediatric and neonatal medicine. Our NICU offers our prenatal counseling program for critical delivery planning. Our neonatologists’ primary focus is to ensure the highest level of neonatal care for all infants with congenital heart disease.

Pediatric clinical pharmacists

Pediatric pharmacists working in the CICU are board-certified pediatric pharmacy specialists trained to care for critically ill children. Each day during multidisciplinary rounds with the team, the pharmacist evaluates your child's medication regimen for safety and effectiveness. Families are encouraged to ask the pharmacist rounding with the team any questions or concerns regarding medication therapies. In addition to monitoring medication levels, reviewing laboratory and culture results and tailoring medication therapies to each child, the pharmacist also plays an integral role in assisting the physician with fluid and nutrition status while in the intensive care unit (ICU).

Child life specialists

Our child life specialists support not only your loved one but the entire family with psychological and emotional support. Our child life team uses play to promote coping, offers distraction during procedures and educates your loved one throughout their stay. Child life specialists provide activities and comfort to normalize the hospital experience and help put your kid at ease.

Congenital heart conditions we treat

Congenital heart disease is the most common type of birth abnormality, affecting about one percent of births in the U.S. Congenital heart abnormalities 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.

We treat a full range of heart conditions, including:

  • Absent pulmonary valve
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Anomalous left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery (ALCAPA)
  • Mitral stenosis
  • Aortic stenosis/aortic valve stenosis
  • Partial anomalous pulmonary venous return
  • Atrial septal defect
  • Patent ductus arteriosus
  • Atrioventricular canal defect
  • Patent foramen ovale
  • Coarctation of the aorta
  • Pulmonary atresia
  • Double aortic arch
  • Pulmonary stenosis Double-outlet right ventricle
  • Single ventricle abnormalities
  • dextro-Transposition of the Great Arteries
  • Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF)
  • Ebstein anomaly
  • Total anomalous pulmonary venous return
  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome
  • Tricuspid atresia
  • Interrupted aortic arch
  • Truncus arteriosus
  • l-Transposition of the Great Arteries
  • Ventricular septal defect

Acquired heart disease in children

Unlike congenital heart abnormalities, acquired heart diseases occur after your child is born. These conditions include:

  • Aortic aneurysms
  • Arrhythmias
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Bacterial endocarditis
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Heart failure
  • Heart murmurs
  • Heart valve problems and diseases
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Myocarditis
  • Pericarditis
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Venous thromboembolism

Diagnosing congenital and acquired heart conditions

Your child’s doctor may use several different imaging tests to diagnose heart conditions. These tests are performed at our hospital using special equipment, which is specially designed for your loved one’s care.

Some heart tests we offer include:

  • Chest X-rays
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans
  • Echocardiograms, including fetal echocardiograms
  • Electrocardiograms (EKG)
  • Exercise tests
  • Holter monitoring
  • Laboratory tests
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans

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 is 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 cardiac catheterization lab (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

Interventional cardiac catheterization

Sunrise Children's Hospital is equipped with the only pediatric cath lab in Nevada. The cath lab team has specialized knowledge, education and training to care for pediatric cardiac patients. Cardiac catheterization is a tool for observing the heart in action, and we also use it to treat congenital heart diseases.

With ever advancing treatments, many heart conditions once requiring 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 shorter recovery period.

Electrophysiology procedures

Electrophysiology (EP) focuses on the heart’s electrical system. Your loved one’s doctor may order an EP study to diagnose the source of abnormal electrical signals causing a heart arrhythmia. Electrophysiology services take place in a specialized room of our cardiac cath lab.

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)

Treating pediatric heart conditions

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

  • Cardiac catheterization procedures
  • Electrophysiology procedures
  • Heart surgery
  • Medication

Please remember, if your loved one is prescribed medication by their doctor, it is important for them to take the medications as prescribed. Please do not start or stop a medication regimen without discussing it with their doctor first.

Congenital heart surgery

If your child is born with a heart abnormality or develops acquired heart disease, they may require surgery. Heart surgery is necessary when the abnormality cannot be repaired using a catheter or controlled with appropriate medication. Sometimes, one surgery can completely correct the issue. However, in some cases, your child may need more than one surgery over months, years or across their lifetime. Through every surgery and follow-up, our team is with you and your child every step of the way, caring for them like family.

Hybrid heart procedures

In some cases, a hybrid heart procedure may be the best treatment option. Hybrid procedures combine the tools and techniques of interventional cardiology and heart surgery. Using the expertise and techniques of our specialists, we can treat more complex congenital heart abnormalities.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) / mechanical support

Our congenital heart program is the only of its kind in Nevada providing support for patients requiring cardiac ECMO before or after congenital heart surgery. ECMO is a potentially lifesaving technique mimicking the natural function of the heart and lungs, allowing the body to rest while natural healing of the affected organs takes place or surgery to be done to repair the heart.

Heart surgery program volumes and outcomes

The Sunrise Children's Hospital heart team provides high-quality, individualized surgical care to patients of all ages needing congenital heart care. We are committed to every patient, and work to help them have the opportunity for a long and happy life. Our outcomes are a shining example of the care provided every day.

Congenital heart surgery outcomes

The Sunrise Children's Hospital (SCH) heart team provides high-quality, individualized surgical care to patients of all ages needing congenital heart care. We are committed to every patient, and work to help them have the opportunity for a long and happy life. Our outcomes are a shining example of the care provided every day.

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) is a national nonprofit organization, which compiles data and outcomes from heart programs at hospitals across the country to create benchmarks or comparisons for heart surgeries. According to the STS Congenital Heart Surgery Database (CHSD), the national four-year benchmark survival rate is 97.3 percent. Sunrise Children’s Congenital Heart Program continues to see significantly better survival rates than the national benchmark. Our program’s current four-year survival rate is 98.8 percent for January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2021. The program also consistently performs better than then national average for the benchmark surgeries as shown below.

Benchmark Surgeries Survival Rate - SCH Survival Rate - National Average
Coarctation of Aorta (No CPB) 100% 99%
Ventricular Septal Defect 100% 96.6%
Tetralogy of Fallot 100% 98.8%
Atrioventricular Septal Defect - AV Canal 100% 98.1%
Arterial Switch Operation 100% 98.1%
Arterial Switch Operation + Ventricular Septal Defect 100% 94.5%
GlennHemi 100% 98%
Fontan 100% 98.9%
Truncus Arteriosus 100% 90.8%
Norwood Operation 94.4% 87.7%

Source: Sunrise Children’s Hospital (SCH) Congenital Heart Program CardioAccess registry database for dates January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2021
*STS CHSD Benchmark Survival Rates - Society of Thoracic Surgeons Congenital Heart Surgery Database, 2021 Harvest Report for dates between July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2020