Pediatric Heart Surgery — A Ready Reference for Professionals

When it comes to pediatric cardiac surgery, no matter how complex it may be, Children's Wisconsin leads the nation with some of the highest reported outcomes in the country for centers specializing in pediatric heart disease. Our pediatric heart program consistently outperforms when it comes to congenital heart surgery outcomes for even the most complex types of heart disease, as evaluated by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons

As one of the busiest pediatric heart surgery centers in the country, we perform hundreds more operations than any other program in the state. Research shows that performing a large number of procedures leads to better results.

What’s more, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends centers like ours for children with congenital heart disease, before birth and beyond. Our program offers a comprehensive team of pediatric surgery experts, including congenital heart surgeons, pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists and pediatric critical care specialists.

Surgeries and procedures

We offer the full spectrum of pediatric heart surgeries, including the most complex. Among the procedures we offer are the following:

Exceptional heart surgery outcomes

Parents find hope, reassurance and compassion as Herma Heart Institute caregivers focus unmatched expertise on their child. Herma Heart Institute sets the bar for excellence nationally when it comes to successfully repairing some of the most complicated cardiac problems. For example, we have the best survival rate in the world for treating hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a critical condition in which a baby is born with only half of the heart functioning.

We set the standard for other complicated heart surgeries, as well, offering 96 percent or better survival rates for highly complex procedures including:

  • Non-neonatal repair of tetralogy of Fallot, a rare, complex combination of four congenital (present at birth) heart defects.
  • Glenn and Fontan procedures, for repairing defects like hypoplastic left heart syndrome and tricuspid atresia. 
  • Arterial switch procedure, used to repair defects such as transposition of the great arteries. 

Learn more about our quality and outcomes.

Leading pediatric heart surgeons

Consistently recognized among the Best Doctors in America, all Herma Heart Institute surgeons are board-certified in congenital heart surgery. Because they perform 550 heart procedures each year, our surgeons are highly experienced in treating even the rarest of conditions. This expertise regularly earns them invitations to present their research and innovations to leading medical groups nationally and internationally.

Specialized cardiac surgery team

Heart surgery in children is complex and delicate, which makes an experienced operating room team essential. In the surgery suite, anesthesiologists and other operating room physicians specialize in caring for children with heart defects. In fact, everyone involved in your child’s care at Children’s is a full time fetal, neonatal or pediatric expert. This specialized understanding of children with heart defects improves overall patient care. We are the only pediatric heart care program in Wisconsin to offer this reassurance.

In the intensive care unit after surgery, board-certified pediatric critical care/cardiac intensive care specialists (intensivists) care for children in our Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU). These experts have the skills to manage heart medications, vital sign monitoring, and other vital aspects of care after complex surgery. For the most extreme cases, we offer a number of mechanical heart support options for patients while they recover or wait for heart transplant.

Expert care before and after surgery

At the Herma Heart Institute, we recognize that care prior to and following surgery dramatically affects outcomes. So we leave nothing to chance. About half of heart defects surface in tests before a baby is born, offering opportunities to plan the best care surrounding a baby’s arrival. Based on our experience and research, Children’s Wisconsin offers patients and families resources such as the following:

  • Our Fetal Heart Program, in which cardiologists specializing in the pre-birth care of infants work with parents and surgeons to diagnose problems and plan post-delivery care.
  • Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin's Birth Center, located inside Children's Wisconsin, allows mothers to deliver their babies with a neonatal operating room close by. Research shows that outcomes improve when we reduce the time in getting fragile newborns into surgery.
  • Child Life specialists, who bring anxiety-reducing strategies to little patients and families, help them best manage the entire surgery experience.
  • Our Interstage Home Monitoring Program, an approach we initiated in 2000 and that was soon adopted world-wide based on its ability to help improve dramatically survival rates for patients with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and other conditions that require complex heart surgery.
  • Our Developmental Follow-up Program, one of the first in the nation, in which a team of doctors, nurses, and occupational, physical and speech therapists help children after heart surgery manage potential medical problems and developmental delays.
Wisconsin's highest-rated pediatric surgical center

Recognized by the American College of Surgeons, our Level I verification represents the highest level of recognition for hospitals that perform complex surgical procedures in newborns and children.

Meet Mike Mitchell, MD

Michael E Mitchell

Mike Mitchell, MD
Medical Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Surgical Director of the Herma Heart Institute

Meet Dr. Mitchell

Meet Ronald Woods, MD, PhD

Ronald Woods

Ronald Woods, MD, PhD
Surgical Director, Heart Transplant and Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Program

Meet Dr. Woods