Saving more lives and treating more complex cases

When Your Child Needs a Heart Procedure

“There’s something wrong with your child’s heart.” Those words are hard to hear, but finding the right pediatric heart center for a heart surgery or other heart procedure goes a long way in giving your child the best chance for a healthy life.

How to choose a heart care team that’s right for you and your child

  • Talk to people you trust. Start by asking your child’s doctor where he or she recommends you seek heart treatment. Ask family members about where they’ve had good care. Connect with other families who’ve been on this journey.
  • Find the medical center that has the most experienced pediatric heart surgeons and interventional cardiologists. The volume of heart surgeries, cardiac catheterizations, and/or electrophysiology (EP)/arrhythmia procedures performed is a good measure of predicting results.
  • Review the hospital’s track record. Looking at the overall success rates for pediatric heart surgeries, arrhythmia, and interventional cardiac procedures can be helpful in deciding where you want to get care for your child.

The pediatric heart surgeons at Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford successfully treat some of the most critically ill children—including unborn infants, premature infants, and teens—in the country and the world. Performing more than 600 heart surgeries each year (significantly more than at other children’s hospitals in the country), our subspecialty programs and renowned experts draw families seeking the best possible care for their children.

Our pediatric heart surgeons at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health have more than 50 combined years of experience and are specialized in a range of heart conditions and treatments, from routine to complex, including pulmonary artery reconstructionheart transplant, and single ventricle management. And even though our pediatric heart surgeons treat the most complex cases, our patients’ lengths of stay are shorter for the majority of benchmark heart surgeries than of other peer hospitals nationwide, and our overall survival rate is impressive, higher than 95%.

If your child requires a different type of heart procedure, such as a cardiac catheterization and/or arrhythmia procedure, he or she will be in good hands with our interventional cardiologists and electrophysiologists. They treat a high volume of patients with a variety of heart conditions, many very complex, which helps them to deepen their expertise and provide our young patients with great outcomes. To this point, our arrhythmia procedures’ success rates are higher than the national average.

The Packard Children’s Hospital cardiology and heart surgery programs have been nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report consistently over the last 10 years. In addition, we’re proud to share our hospital’s results in surgery and related areas with respected health care organizations.

Learn more about why thousands of families choose us for the advanced heart care their children need and what we can do for your family.

Stanford Children’s pediatric heart surgery volumes and outcomes

The graphics below provide a good understanding of our most recent pediatric heart surgery achievements and outcomes as reported and validated by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), the organization that tracks the heart care outcomes of all key pediatric hospitals nationwide.

Families travel to Packard Children’s Hospital from all over the country and the world to seek care for their children’s heart needs.

Patients traveling to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford for pediatric heart care 2019-2023

From 2019 through 2023, the Betty Irene Moore’s Children’s Heart Center at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford performed more than 3,000 pediatric heart surgeries. At other hospitals across the country, that number was an average of 1,294.

Medical teams who perform a higher number of pediatric heart surgeries are better equipped to care for your child, as they see a wider range of heart problems, and they are more experienced than pediatric heart surgeons who perform only a handful of procedures per year.

Volume of heart surgeries performed 2019-2023

 Higher is better

At Packard Children’s Hospital, we’ve performed a significant number of heart surgeries for these 10 childhood heart conditions. These procedures are referred to as benchmark operations, meaning that surgical centers use them for making comparisons.

Volume of heart surgery by specific surgery type 2019–2023

 Higher is better

View a glossary of cardiovascular terms to learn more about each of the conditions shown in this chart.

The overall pediatric heart surgery survival rate at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford was close to the national average for 2019–2023.

While this may not seem impressive at first glance, it truly is when you consider that we tackle the hardest, most complex, and rarest heart cases sent to us by other pediatric heart centers across the nation and the world. Our focus isn’t on taking only those children for whom we know we can achieve an excellent heart outcome; it is on giving every child a chance at life or a better life, no matter how impossible their heart condition seems.

Overall survival rate following heart surgery 2019–2023

 Higher is better

And in the chart below, you can see that the Packard Children’s pediatric heart surgery survival rates were in general comparable to the national averages for the 10 benchmark pediatric heart surgeries.

Survival rate for types of heart surgery 2019–2023

 Higher is better

View a glossary of cardiovascular terms used in this chart.

Stanford Children’s arrhythmia procedures volumes and outcomes

The following graphics provide a good understanding of our recent achievements in treating arrhythmia in children.

At Packard Children’s, we perform arrhythmia diagnostics and procedures for children of all ages who come to us with various types of arrhythmia.

As shown in the chart below, we consistently perform a high number of electrophysiology studies (arrhythmia diagnostics) and arrhythmia procedures—ablations and device implantations—each year.

Arrhythmia procedures volume by type 2019–2023

At Packard Children’s Hospital, our success rate for catheter ablations to treat arrhythmia is higher than the national average.

Success rate of catheter ablation for arrhythmia 2019–2023

 Higher is better

Children who experience fewer complications after arrhythmia procedures have better outcomes. On average, our major complication rate for arrhythmia procedures (as defined below) is in line with the national average.

Major complications in arrhythmia procedures 2019–2023

Lower is better 

Stanford Children’s cardiac catheterization volumes

At Stanford Medicine Children’s Health’s Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center, we perform an extremely high volume of cardiac catheterizations, placing us in the top four pediatric heart centers in the country.

We perform cardiac catheterizations in children of all ages, including premature infants and teens, for a wide range of heart conditions.

We are pleased to offer all types of catheter interventions at our Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center. We use the latest interventional cardiology devices—including new innovations discovered through research, clinical trials, and/or collaborations with other organizations—to provide your child with the most advanced heart care and best possible outcome.

Catheterizations volume 2023

Getting treatment

  • Plan for your child’s birth. If you are expecting a baby who requires heart care, an interdisciplinary team will partner with you and your obstetrician to ensure that your child starts strong. Members of this team include pediatric cardiologistspediatric cardiothoracic surgeonshigh-risk obstetriciansneonatologists and genetic counselors. If your child will require a procedure shortly after birth, we recommend you deliver your baby at our hospital so that every necessary resource is available.
  • Learn about the procedure your child will have in advance, so you’ll know what to expect afterward. Activity level, appetite, and growth should eventually return to normal after surgery. While rare, the most common complications after surgery include bleeding, irregular heartbeat, difficulty with feeding, and infection. We have processes and tools in place to help address these complications.
  • Follow your child's heart through the hospital. Every child is different. Don’t be alarmed if your child skips one of these steps or spends the entire stay in one unit.
  • Ask questions at every stage and participate in the medical team’s daily rounds, at which time your child’s progress is reviewed. In addition to the medical team, numerous staff members can offer information, support, and advice. They include case managers, chaplains, child life specialists, child psychiatrists, dietitians, financial counselors, interpreters, rehab specialists, schoolteachers and social workers.
  • Bond with your child. For all children but especially for babies, holding, cuddling, and stroking them are vital to creating a relationship with them. We will do our best to enable you to provide comforting touch, and to speak to your child often, when holding is not possible. Some children will be too fragile to be held before or immediately after surgery.

Going home

Your care team will work with you to decide when is the right time for your child to go home, based on his or her health. There’s no one magic number for that date, but at Packard Children’s Hospital we’re proud of our efforts to get your child home as quickly as possible.

Our patients stay in the hospital for fewer days for the majority of benchmark pediatric heart surgeries than the national average. This chart shows the median number of days typically spent in the hospital for these surgical procedures. Since interventional cardiology procedures are less invasive, they typically do not require a significant hospital stay.

Typical days spent in the hospital for types of heart surgery 2019-2023

Lower is better 

View the glossary of cardiovascular terms >

Follow-up care and beyond

After your child’s surgery, your physician will give a progress report to your child's cardiologist.

  • The team will arrange for an office visit with your child’s doctor to occur after you take her home.
  • As your child gets older, we’ll work with you to ensure a smooth transition from childhood to adult heart care.
  • Our Adult Congenital Heart Program provides a unique approach to care with a team of doctors who specialize in caring for adolescents and adults with congenital heart disease.

Learn more

Find out about some of the advanced pediatric heart treatments and/or procedures we perform at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, and why we may be the best place for care for your child. Our pediatric heart surgeons and cardiologists are standing by to answer your questions.

Pulmonary artery reconstruction | Heart transplant | Single ventricle treatment