Heart defects can be of varying types. Some are minor while others are more severe. These defects may occur within the heart or in the large blood vessels outside it. Pediatric cardiac surgery in India is primarily done to repair heart defects and ensure the well-being of a child for the long term. Surgical procedures are undertaken for congenital heart defects and conditions a kid might develop after birth.
Typically, minimally invasive treatments are considered for children suffering from heart defects. If these treatments do not work out or provide the needed results, the cardiologists recommend more invasive methods to reduce risks and prevent infections. Such a phase is trying for parents. Hence, all leading hospitals try their best to keep the parents regularly updated about the status of their children.
When is pediatric heart surgery usually done?
At times, pediatric heart surgery becomes necessary right after the child is born. These surgeries are required for congenital heart defects or cardiac defects at birth. These defects can impact how blood flows through the heart and out to the rest of the body. All congenital heart defects are not the same. Minor defects can include a small hole in the heart. On the other hand, major congenital heart defects involve poorly formed or missing parts of the heart. Babies with a critical congenital heart defect might need to undergo pediatric cardiac surgery in India in the first year of their life.
There are many other defects as well, in which a child can wait years after birth before requiring surgery. However, here are a few general symptoms indicating that a child might need heart surgery:
- Cyanosis, the nail beds, lips, and skin look grayish or blue. Such symptoms imply that there is not enough oxygen in the blood, a condition called hypoxia.
- Wet, fluid-filled, or congested lungs that cause breathing problems
- Issues with the heart rhythm or heart rate of the child
- Slow development or growth of a child
- Poor sleeping or feeding of a child
Many heart surgeries are performed on kids, depending on the severity of their condition. All pediatric heart surgeons present at leading hospitals of India are trained to provide comprehensive and competent care to children and treat their cardiac disorders.
Types of pediatric cardiac surgeries
While a single surgery might be enough to repair a heart defect in a kid, at times, a series of procedures may be required in some cases.
In open-heart surgery, the surgeon uses a heart-lung bypass machine. The procedure is as follows:
- The incision is made through the breastbone or sternum of a child while under general anesthesia.
- Tubes re-route the blood with the help of a special pump known as the heart-lung bypass machine. In addition to keeping the blood warm, supplying oxygen to the blood while the surgeon repairs the heart are the key functions of this machine.
- The heart-lung bypass machine lets the heart stop. This makes it possible to repair the blood vessels outside the heart, the heart valves, and the heart muscle. After the repairs, the heart is again started, and the machine is removed.
A procedure called thoracotomy is undertaken for some heart defects. Here, an incision is made on either side of the chest, just between the ribs. Thoracotomy is also referred to as closed-heart surgery at times. Such a surgery is done using special instruments and a camera. In most cases, a heart-lung bypass machine is not required for closed heart surgery. Moreover, not all heart defects can be treated with this approach.
Inserting tiny tubes into an artery in the leg and passing them up to the heart is another way to fix cardiac defects. Only some heart defects can be treated in this manner.
Supporting a child post-cardiac surgery
Post pediatric cardiac surgery in India, a child is likely to be kept in the ICU for a few days for observation. They shall be discharged depending on their condition post the surgery and the type of surgery performed. Around three to four weeks of recovery at home shall be needed after discharge. This period can even extend to six to eight weeks for more complicated procedures.
Here are a few points that parents need to keep in mind to effectively support their child after cardiac surgery:
- Prevent the child from doing any activity that involves pushing or pulling
- Make sure that they do not lift anything heavy
- Provide nutritious food to the child, which can help to heal faster
- Follow-up with the doctor before getting any kind of immunizations post-surgery
A child may become clingy or irritable after cardiac surgery. Parents need to be patient with them and compassionately support them during this time.