Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Commonly asked questions about heart surgery

What can we expect when we come to you for heart surgery?

Depending on your child’s heart condition, you can expect to see various heart specialists, including cardiologists and your heart surgeon, among other specialists, if your child has multiple heart conditions or a very complex or rare heart disorder. We put your child and your family at the center. We invite you to participate in care meetings, and we support you in making the best care choices for your child and your family.

My child has a congenital heart defect. Does that mean she will have to have surgery?

No, not every heart defect that a child is born with requires surgery. Sometimes, medications or minimally invasive interventional cardiology procedures are enough to correct a mild heart defect. Other times, a child can wait until they are older to have a corrective heart surgery, which may be a onetime procedure or, in cases where a heart defect is complex, possible staged surgeries throughout life.

I’m pregnant, and my doctor says my developing baby has a heart defect. How can you help?

Our fetal cardiologists are highly skilled at diagnosing heart conditions before birth, providing information on what you can expect, guiding your decision-making with compassion and knowledge, and, if necessary, planning your newborn’s heart surgery with us immediately after birth, if required. Even if your baby is born premature, we are able to provide certain lifesaving procedures right after birth. When you come to us for high-risk prenatal care, an entire team of fetal cardiologists, heart surgeons, cardiac imaging specialists, and maternal-fetal medicine specialists assemble to care for you and your baby.

Why should I choose Stanford Medicine for my child’s heart surgery needs?

We are known across the country and world for our exceptional heart surgery care. Because we perform more than twice as many heart surgeries as the national average, we are able to take on children who have extremely complicated heart needs or who are told that their chance of survival is low. Our heart surgeons do not hesitate to do whatever they can to provide every child their best chance at a high-quality life and a well-functioning heart. We achieve impressive outcomes, even in children with conditions deemed untreatable. If your child has a highly complex congenital heart defect, we are ready and more than able to provide care. In fact, we receive referrals from hospitals across the nation, including large pediatric heart centers, because we are known for our ability to think outside the box—thanks to our focus on research, innovation, and evidence-based care.

I live far away—can you still care for my child?

Yes, we are accustomed to caring for children with heart disorders outside of our region. You can travel to us for your child’s heart surgery, and we will help you figure out the logistics, including housing. We work closely with your child’s primary cardiologist from your hometown, so that once the surgery is completed and you return home, we can stay involved in your child’s care. If you are interested in coming to us, ask your child’s cardiologist to make a referral.