Pediatric Congenital Heart Disease

Integrative Approach to Diagnose and Treat Pediatric Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease is one of the many cardiovascular conditions diagnosed and treated by the highly skilled doctors at Loyola Medicine. Whether the condition is diagnosed at birth or later in adult life, our multidisciplinary team of cardiac specialists work together to develop a treatment plan that is right for your child.

Congenital heart disease is caused by abnormal development of your child’s heart before birth, creating problems with its structure and function. Congenital defects of the heart are the most common type of birth defect and vary in their presentation of symptoms and long-term effect on your child’s body. While some heart defects may go undiscovered and can be left untreated, others have life-threatening symptoms and require complex medical treatment to prevent congestive heart failure (CHF) and other serious conditions.

Loyola’s expert team of specialists is skilled at diagnosing and treating congenital heart disorders including, but not limited to:

  • Atrial and ventricular septal defects (ASD/VSD or hole in heart) — Oxygen-rich blood mixes with de-oxygenated blood across the right and left heart chambers
     
  • Ebstein's anomaly — In patients with this condition, the tricuspid valve doesn't work properly, causing blood to leak back through the valve and making the heart work less efficiently
     
  • Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) — A large opening between major blood vessels in the heart. This allows too much blood to flow through the heart, thus weakening the heart muscle and causing heart failure if untreated.
     
  • Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) — When VSD, overriding aorta, pulmonary stenosis and right ventricular hypertrophy all occur together
     
  • Total anomalous pulmonary venous connection (TAPVC) — Occurs when blood does not take the normal route from the lungs to the heart and out to the body. Instead, the veins from the lungs attach to the heart in abnormal positions.
     
  • Transposition of the great arteries (TGA) — Occurs when the two main arteries going out of the heart, the pulmonary artery and the aorta, are switched in position or “transposed”. This condition causes the heart to pump oxygen-poor blood to the rest of the body.

Regardless of the severity of your child’s congenital heart defect, a heart specialist should monitor him or her closely. Some children with congenital heart disease are at higher risk for an infection of the heart (endocarditis) and should be aware of special precautions needed to prevent infection.

How is Pediatric Congenital Heart Disease Diagnosed?

Specialists at Loyola approach the diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart defects with great detail and care. Symptoms of congenital heart defects may include the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Cyanosis (bluish skin discoloration)
  • Exercise impairment
  • Heart murmurs
  • Shortness of breath

Loyola’s multidisciplinary team uses state-of-the-art imaging and diagnostic tests to confirm your child’s diagnosis. 

How is Pediatric Congenital Heart Disease Treated?

Treatment of congenital heart defects depends on the severity of your child’s condition. In some instances medical monitoring is sufficient, while more severe cases may require medication, cardiac catheterization procedures or cardiac surgery. Some patients may require a combination of treatments.

Your child’s healthcare team at Loyola will use a collaborative approach, consulting parents, caregivers and the child’s pediatrician to develop the most effective treatment plan for your child’s particular condition.