Children's Hospital Colorado

What is Congenital Heart Disease?

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common congenital defect occurring in approximately one out of every 120 babies and has the highest mortality of any congenital defect within the first year of life. Some conditions can be treated in utero, but for others, treatment is only possible after birth.

Our fetal cardiology program offers state-of-the-art fetal cardiac evaluations to families at risk for cardiac anomolies including:

  • Structural heart defects ( for example hypoplastic left heart syndrome, hypoplastic right heart syndrome, valve abnormalities, septal defects and transposition of the great arteries)
  • Abnormal fetal heart rhythms: tachycardia (fast heart rate), bradycardia (slow heart rate) and irregular heart rhythms
  • Heart failure

Our surgical outcomes consistently perform better than the national average for all cardiac defects repaired during the neonatal period and for newborns. 

Expert Care for Congenital Heart Disease

Once a fetus is identified to have CHD, the maternal, perinatal and neonatal experts at Children’s Hospital Colorado jointly develop a delivery plan to optimize the postnatal outcome. Parents have ample opportunity to have their questions answered by the fetal cardiology team. In addition to medical expertise, family support groups and social services are available to provide emotional support, which is so critical during this time. If the family is from out of town, our team helps them find affordable housing nearby. Our goal is not only the full term delivery of a healthy infant in the best possible condition to thrive after surgery, but a family who feels supported from the time of diagnosis until their baby goes home.

After delivery, a highly trained team of specialists in pediatric cardiac critical care and pediatric cardiothoracic surgery continue the state-of-the-art care begun by the fetal cardiology team. The pediatric critical care and cardiothoracic surgery teams have some of the best patient outcomes in the nation and experience with even the most complex cardiac defects.

  • Our team of surgeons perform more than 500 heart surgeries per year
  • In 2014, over 50 percent of surgeries were on patients <1 year old
  • Our results are consistently better than the national average and better in all categories of surgical risk, compared to outcome data analyzed by the Society of Thoracic Surgery.
  • Our neonatal mortality is less than half of expected, based on the Society of Thoracic Surgery average.
  • Our post-operative length of stay is consistently lower than the Society of Thoracic Surgery average.

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