As the leading provider of comprehensive cardiovascular care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults in Arkansas, our pediatric specialists combine world-class expertise with state-of-the-art technology to care for our most important patient: your child. The cardiovascular program at Arkansas Children's uses our expertise to set processes for urgent and continuing needs.
US News and World Report Badge - Cardiology

Cardiovascular Surgery at Arkansas Children's

The Arkansas Children's Heart Center's cardiovascular surgery team strives for the early and complete repair of congenital heart malformations with the latest technological advances with some of the best pediatric cardiovascular surgeons available anywhere. Our family-centered care environment is the foundation of personal, human relationships with our patients and families.

Meet the team

Related Services

As the only program in Arkansas dedicated to pediatric cardiology, specialists at Arkansas Children’s Heart Center diagnose and treat a comprehensive list of both acquired and congenital heart diseases and conditions.

Possible Conditions

Other Conditions Treated by the Heart Center

  • Anomalous Coronary Artery (ACA)
  • Aortic Stenosis
  • Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)
  • Atrioventricular Canal (AV Canal or AVC)
  • Coarctation of the Aorta
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)
  • Pulmonary Artery Stenosis
  • Pulmonary Atresia (PA)
  • Pulmonary Stenosis
  • Tricuspid Atresia (TA)
  • Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return
  • Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA)
  • Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Truncus Arteriosus
  • Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)
  • Arrhythmias in Children
  • Bacterial Endocarditis
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Eisenmenger’s Syndrome
  • Heart Murmurs 
  • Heart Rhythm Issues in Children
  • High Blood Pressure or Hypertension in Infants
  • Kawasaki Disease
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Syncope

Meet the Team

With a multidisciplinary team approach to care, our specialists work together across all pediatric disciplines for the best care plan for your child. Care is coordinated through diagnosis, imaging, treatment, aftercare and follow-up monitoring. Critically important for children with congenital heart disease, we help transition patients to our Adult Congenital Heart Disease Clinic for long-term success.

The Heart Center at Arkansas Children's takes a comprehensive, team approach customized to treating your child's heart care. A large team of some of the best pediatric cardiologists and intensivists provides excellent diagnostic, interventional treatment and post-operative care to complete the world-class spectrum of support provided in the Heart Center. With tight collaboration between surgeons and cardiologists, the Heart Center at Arkansas Children's is able to provide patients and families a seamless continuum of care. The Heart Center at our hospital functions as a cohesive team to provide cardiac surgical patients with unparalleled care. You'll find its pediatric Heart Center is state-of-the-art, staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week with in-house cardiac-level intensivists. Our center is backed by a team that is totally committed to cardiac care-and our outcomes prove it.

The pediatric cardiovascular surgical program features state-of-the-art surgical care for children and adults with congenital heart disease, balanced with utmost compassion and hope. Although our focus is on patients from the south central United States, our pediatric cardiovascular services reach beyond those boundaries to a nationwide and even international level. From the tiniest of neonates with the most complex cardiac malformations to continuing-care adults with conditions present since birth, our outcomes and results are unexcelled anywhere. 

Expert Heart Care in Arkansas for Every Child at Every Age

Caring for patients with congenital heart defects means caring for people of all ages. In fact, our successes mean there are many more adults living with congenital heart disease. This has led us to develop a new field of practice focusing on those adult survivors. Our practice includes:

  • Cardiac Care for the Unborn Child - It is not uncommon to find cardiac defects before a baby is born. A detailed ultrasound of an unborn baby may reveal a heart problem. The only specially trained fetal echocardiographers in Arkansas are at Arkansas Children's. A variety of defects and rhythm problems can be identified ahead of time so that high-risk deliveries may be anticipated. 

  • Arkansas Cardiology Care for Newborn Infants - Some newborns have defects in heart valves, holes in the walls of the heart (septal defects) or abnormal connection of large blood vessels from the heart (patent ductus arteriosus). Others have weaknesses in heart muscle, coronary arteries, and heart chambers. Still, others have lung artery abnormalities and heart murmurs. Sometimes these problems only require medication for treatment. In more severe cases, surgical intervention is necessary. 

  • Cardiac Care for Infants and Children - Older children can have many of the same problems as infants. Some need a follow-up visit with a cardiologist after having a heart operation or to correct a cardiac defect. Rarer afflictions include rheumatic fever, Kawasaki's Disease, Down's Syndrome, Marfan Syndrome or DiGeorge Syndrome. Rhythm problems, dizziness or syncope (fainting or losing consciousness) are common within this age group. 

  • Arkansas Cardiology Care for Adolescent and Adults - Heart defect cases originating in childhood are followed and cared for by pediatric cardiology doctors. This unique group of patients requires specialized knowledge of childhood heart disease as it affects them with age. This is particularly important if surgery may be needed or rhythm problems develop.

The Arkansas Children's Hospital's Cardiovascular Anesthesia team has the training and experience to focus on the specific needs of patients and manage a range of complex cardiac issues. For patients with heart disease, the pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist has a central role in coordinating team-based surgical care.

The cardiac anesthesiologist:

  • monitors physiologic parameters;
  • protects vital organ function;
  • controls blood coagulation;
  • and reduces the inflammatory response to cardiopulmonary bypass.

Each part of the surgical procedure requires specific attention, including poor heart function before transplantation, the monitoring during cardiopulmonary bypass, or assisting the patient's heart in separating from cardiopulmonary bypass. The cardiac anesthesiologist has the ability to monitor the patient's overall well-being, thereby helping to create the optimal environment for a successful cardiac repair procedure, or any other type of procedure on a cardiac patient.

Locations

Sometimes needed for diagnosis or follow-up care, your care team at Arkansas Children’s Heart Center may schedule initial or additional tests and procedures.

Possible Tests and Treatments

  • Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs)
  • Cardiac Catheterization in Children
  • Chest X-Ray 
  • CT (Computed Tomography) Scan
  • Echocardiography
  • EKG / ECG
  • Heart Transplantation
  • Holter Monitoring
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Children
  • Transesophageal Echocardiography
  • Ultrafast / Electron Beam CT Scan

Arkansas Children’s Heart Center Outcomes

Transparency in health care includes sharing easy-to-understand quality and outcome information with the public. Our families deserve to know this information when making health care decisions for their children. The Arkansas Children's Heart Center stands by the quality care we provide to patients and families in Arkansas and around the region.

Common Terms Used in Outcomes Information

Benchmark: a comparison or compared to

STS: All of our outcomes are benchmarked against the STS National Database. STS is The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), and their national database was created as a quality improvement initiative for patient safety in cardiothoracic surgery. Considered the gold standard of registries, more than 1,000 physicians submit data to the collaborative, creating a robust wealth of data for benchmarking.

Benchmark Procedures: Certain operations are called benchmark operations which means heart centers use them to compare outcomes with other centers.

HIGHER IS BETTER

Why is this important? This information shows case volumes (operations) over a 4-year period for key benchmark operations. STS considers ACH a high-volume surgical center with a large enough volume to ensure experience in treating all congenital cardiac lesions. The more operations we do, the more experience we have, and experience is the key to good outcomes.

Cardiology Outcomes - Four-Year Case Volumes

HIGHER IS BETTER

What does this mean?  This information shows survival after surgical treatment of key benchmark operations over a 4-year period and compares the ACH experience to the STS average. ACH meets or exceeds survival outcomes in all key areas when compared to the STS average.

Cardiology Outcomes - Four-Year Survival Comparison

MORTALITY LOWER IS BETTER

Why is this important? STAT score is assigned to each surgical procedure. It is a tool designed to analyze risk for mortality based on the complexity of each case. This graph shows the number of overall cases performed per STAT category compared to the mortality that occurred. STAT 5 represents the most complex cases. ACH has some of the LOWEST mortality rates compared to other centers of similar size and operations performed.

Cardiology Outcomes - Risk Stratification by STAT Score

LOWER IS BETTER

What does this mean? Cross clamp time is the time in minutes during which the aorta is occluded (closed off) to allow surgical repair. During this time, oxygenated blood flow is stopped to the tissues being repaired. The higher the cross-clamp time, the higher the risk of complication. ACH cross clamp times are consistently well below the STS average. This means our team has the skill to quickly and safely do the operation, resulting in better outcomes for the patient.

Cardiology Outcomes - Average Cross Clamp Times

LOWER IS BETTER

Why is this important? On average, our patient's post-operative total length of stay across all categories is shorter at ACH compared to other national sites. Less time in the hospital means more time at home with family.

Cardiology Outcomes - Post Operative Length of Stay by Index Operation

HIGHER IS BETTER

What does this mean? A long history of consistent volumes of cardiac catheterization (cath) procedures, including diagnostic, interventional, and electrophysiology cases, provide our teams with the right experience to ensure exceptional outcomes. Our team performs more than 600 cath lab cases each year. Again, experience is key to good outcomes.

ACH cath space includes two state-of-the-art biplane cath labs, including a hybrid catheterization lab, which allows our interventional cardiologists to work side-by-side with our cardiothoracic surgeons. The combined expertise of these two specialties provides a less invasive option to deal with some of our more complex heart defects. The cath labs also provide a space for our electrophysiologist to address problems with the heart's electrical system, including electrophysiology studies to diagnose and ablate abnormal electrical pathways and minimally invasive implantation of pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs).

Cardiology Outcomes - Cardiac Cath Volume

Cardiology stories and resources help parents and families prepare for effective care at home.

Everest's Story - Climbing Mountains and Living Up to Her Name

Everest is sure to live up to her name - she's had some mountains to climb and is an overcomer! At just 4 months old, she needed heart surgery and her parents trusted our nationally ranked cardiology team. Down Syndrome and an Atrial Septal Defect (a hole in the heart) is not stopping her from living her best life.

How 3D Printed Hearts and Virtual Reality Help Plan Pediatric Cardiology Surgeries

Medical technology is advancing rapidly, giving cardiologists innovative ways to plan for surgeries. Pediatric Cardiologists at Arkansas Children's Hospital are using 3D heart printers and virtual reality systems (EchoPixel) to help prepare for complex surgical cases involving newborn babies and older patients. This technology gives surgeons the ability to see and hold a patient's heart before the procedure, as well as understand the arteries and heart chamber relationships.

Dr. Markus Renno explains, "the goal of an operation is to know exactly what you're going to do and finish it quickly and effectively." These medical advancements are creating positive heart surgery outcomes for patients and physicians.

Watch this video to see exactly how a 3D heart is printed from scan to 3d model and how virtual reality is giving doctors a view of patients hearts before they are in the operating room.

What is Beads of Courage®?

Beads of Courage is a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt organization dedicated to helping children with serious illness record, tell, and own their stories of survival. When children undergo treatment for serious illnesses, needle sticks, x-rays and hospital stays are all painful episodes to be endured. Beads of Courage is a program that awards these brave patients with beads to represent each milestone. Through this program, children are able to tell their story using colorful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones they have achieved.

Initially created to help children endure cancer treatment, the program has since been modified to also reach patients with cardiac conditions. Patients receive a necklace with their name and a bead symbolizing the cardiac program. With every milestone in a patient's treatment, beads are added to help tell a story of understanding, acceptance, and survival unique to each child's journey. These colorful beads are worn proudly by patients or their families as a symbol of courage. They are a constant reminder to take each procedure one day at a time. These beads bring energy and excitement to patients and families.

Major Benefits

Ongoing evaluation of the Beads of Courage program indicates that the program helps to decrease illness-related distress, increase the use of positive coping strategies, helps children find meaning in illness, and restore a sense of children coping with serious illness. The program also provides something tangible the child can use to tell about their experience during treatment and after.

For more information or to make a donation email us: CVICUbeadsofcourage@archildrens.org.

Related Content

Arkansas Children's MyChart

Manage your child's medical information and connect with your Arkansas Children's medical team anytime online!

Log in to MyChart