Heart defects are common in newborns. About eight out of 1,000 babies born in the U.S. have a congenital heart defect. Parents often learn of the problem following a routine prenatal ultrasound or soon after their baby is born.
If your obstetrician or pediatrician spots a problem with your baby’s heart, in most cases your doctor will recommend seeing a pediatric cardiologist. Some defects may not need treatment. Others require surgery to repair the heart.
You will be faced with many decisions concerning your child’s care. To guide your family, you’ll need to choose a pediatric cardiologist. Your obstetrician, pediatrician or family doctor can help. Listen to their advice. Research on your own.
An infant’s heart is roughly the size of his or her fist. Operating on such a tiny organ with correspondingly small vessels requires specialized training, skill and experience. It’s important to find a doctor with technical qualifications, but you’ll also want someone with whom you have a rapport.
Here are some things to consider:
When you understand more about your baby’s diagnosis, you can better assess cardiologists. Ask your doctor for information about your child’s condition. You’ll find many sources of information, but read them with a critical eye. Visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health for reliable information on heart defects. Visit your local library and ask the reference librarian for help finding information.
Do you know other families affected by a congenital heart disease? Speak with them about their experiences. Ask about the pediatric cardiologist that cares for their baby. Find out if they have recommendations for specific doctors, programs or hospitals.
Doctors and surgeons are affiliated with hospitals. Learn more about the facility where your doctor performs surgeries. Does the hospital have a division devoted to pediatrics? Are they leaders in cardiology? In pediatrics? Pediatric Cardiology Center of Oregon is based at Legacy Emanuel Hospital / Randall Children’s Hospital.
Ask a surgeon about their experience. Ask how many times they have performed a procedure and whether the outcome was successful. Some surgeons and hospitals specialize in a particular type of surgery. Don’t be afraid to ask a doctor if they have experience treating other children with the same condition as your child’s.
Complex surgeries require help from a team of doctors, surgeons and other medical staff. Learn as much as you can about the team working with a pediatric cardiologist. PCCO has a group of pediatricians, each with an area of expertise. Learn more about the experience of our providers.
You may need to travel for your child’s surgery. Not every town or hospital has a pediatric cardiologist. There is a definite advantage to having surgery in your hometown. Children may have to spend weeks or months in a hospital. They may need more than one surgery. However, top facilities often have services to help families who need to travel for treatment. PCCO has outreach locations in several Oregon and Washington towns.
Your pediatric cardiologist may treat your child for many years. It’s important that you feel confident and comfortable with your specialist. Request an appointment here, or contact us for information about our services.