Pediatric cardiac anesthesiology is a specialized field offered at the Children’s Heart Institute at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital that focuses on providing anesthesia to infants, children, and adolescents undergoing cardiac surgery or procedures. At the heart of this specialization is the recognition of the unique physiological characteristics and medical needs of young patients with cardiac conditions.

With the remarkable advancements in the treatment of congenital heart disease (CHD), there has been a significant increase in the survival rates of patients from infancy through adulthood. This progress has brought to the forefront the need for anesthesiologists who are adept in navigating the complex perioperative care required by this unique patient population. Pediatric cardiac anesthesiology is not just a medical specialty; it's a commitment to the intricate balance of experience and skills necessary to provide optimal care for these patients, many of whom have a complex medical and surgical history.

The affiliated pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital are integral members of a highly focused team, including surgical and medical professionals, all dedicated to the care for our patients. This synergy of collaboration is key to ensuring the highest quality of care and achieving optimal outcomes for our patients.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists specialize in providing anesthesia for young patients with congenital or acquired heart diseases during surgery or cardiac procedures. They have dual training in both pediatric and congenital cardiac anesthesia, ensuring safe and effective anesthesia administration during complex heart surgeries, as well as procedures like cardiac catheterizations. The affiliated pediatric cardiac anesthesiology team is responsible for intubating the patient to ensure adequate oxygenation and ventilation during the surgery. Additionally, they place appropriate lines for monitoring hemodynamics and resuscitation. Successfully securing the airway and accessing these vessels requires special skill and training, considering that many of our patients are critically ill neonates with extremely small airways and vessels. Strict vigilance of vital signs, fluid status, acid-base and electrolyte balance, blood loss, appropriate amnesia and analgesia, and maintenance of physiological homeostasis are some of the critical responsibilities of the pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist.

Our team of affiliated pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists care for our heart patients during cardiac and noncardiac surgeries that take place at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. This high level of specialized care provides increased safety for our most vulnerable patients. Many of our patients undergo multiple surgeries or interventions during the course of their treatment; these could include open heart surgeries to correct congenital heart defects, heart transplants, cardiac catheterizations for percutaneous interventions and direct hemodynamic measurements, noncardiac surgery such as gastric tubes for feeding supplementation, or diagnostic imaging. Having a dedicated, affiliated pediatric anesthesiology team care involved in each of these procedures provides increased safety and comfort for our pediatric cardiac patients.

At the Children’s Heart Institute, the safety and well-being of our youngest patients are at the heart of everything we do. We tailor our anesthetic plan to provide an individualized and family-oriented approach. Because many of the affiliated pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists are intimately involved in all our patients’ procedures, they can build and foster strong relationships with patients and their families. This special relationship allows the team members to be powerful advocates for patients’ safety and comfort during the peri-surgical period, including adapting and incorporating individual preferences into their care plan.

For example, discussing alternative, non-invasive, safe options for inducing anesthesia if the patient is fearful of peripheral intravenous needle access. Because the affiliated anesthesia team provides anesthetic care in various settings, they are an important liaison and central resource across the congenital cardiac specialties, including surgeons, cardiologists, and intensivists. Our team-based and family approach combines the benefits of structured protocols with personalized care to ensure safety and comfort.

We begin with a thorough preoperative assessment, evaluating each child's unique medical history, current health status, and specific heart condition. This allows us to understand and prepare for the unique challenges each patient may face. Within the context of the child’s specific cardiac condition and physiology, we create a safe, individualized anesthesia plan.

We focus on reducing anxiety and creating a comfortable environment for both the child and the family. Our approach is to provide a sense of certainty and familiarity with the perioperative process. This involves discussing plans with the family in advance and reducing stress and uncertainty. We also utilize telemedicine visits and preoperative lab work to minimize prep work on the day of surgery. In partnership with Child Life, we cater to each child’s individual needs, providing various distractions and comfort measures such as iPads, toys, and specialized interactions.

At the Children’s Heart Institute at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, our team includes affiliated specialized, board-certified anesthesiologists and practitioners with extensive training in pediatric and cardiac anesthesia. This specialization extends beyond physicians to nurses, coordinators, and other healthcare professionals, all focused solely on pediatric cardiac anesthesia. This comprehensive, affiliated team manages preoperative and postoperative care, optimizing patient outcomes, minimizing length of stay, and reducing post-op complications.

Our protocols are based on the latest evidence-based guidelines, and we use a best-practice, team-based approach for optimal outcomes. Moreover, Children’s Heart Institute is among the top congenital heart surgery programs in North America and has an outstanding reputation for perioperative outcomes.

As a leading congenital cardiac center, we balance safety with innovation and learning. We are continually exploring new therapies and techniques to improve patient outcomes and quality of life. Our commitment to innovation contributes to the advancement of pediatric cardiac anesthesia.

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