Having Congenital Heart Surgery

If your child has to have surgery to correct a congenital heart defect, you understandably are worried about what happens before, during and after surgery. We want to take the guesswork out of it for your family. Our team is committed to assisting our patients and their families, as well as referring physicians, in coordinating their experiences with our program and ensuring the best possible surgical outcomes.

The congenital heart surgery process

The following resources will help you learn about what to expect before surgery, the day of surgery, and after your child has congenital heart surgery.


Risks associated with pediatric congenital heart surgery

As a parent, you most likely are concerned about the possible complications and risks your child will face during and after surgery.

Complications from congenital heart surgery vary widely according to the specific procedure and the patient’s condition. Your surgeon will discuss the risks associated with your child’s surgery at the time of your consultation.

Risks can include bleeding, infection, need for re-operation, damage to nerves in the chest area, brain damage and/or death.

At Texas Children’s Heart Center, the risk of serious complications, such as brain damage or death, are very low. Our surgeons have extensive experience and can provide specific data defining the surgical risk for the procedure. At Texas Children’s Heart Center, we believe this important information must be shared with parents to help make the process less stressful.


Length of hospitalization

The amount of time your child spends in the hospital after congenital heart surgery depends upon a variety of factors including:

  • The type of congenital heart defect, surgical repair and post-operative course
  • His or her ability to maintain/gain weight and activity level
  • The family’s understanding and ability to provide for the patient’s post-operative needs

Most patients can expect to stay from 3 to 10 days. Patients who live more than a one-hour drive from Houston may need to make arrangements to stay in the Houston area until after their first post-operative cardiology clinic visit, which usually is scheduled one week after discharge.

If you need assistance or have questions at any time, please call the congenital heart surgery clinic at 832-826-2030. We’re here to help make your family’s experience less stressful.