Mayo Clinic has been at the forefront of pediatric heart (cardiovascular) surgery since the specialty began. In the 1950s, Mayo surgeons performed some of the world's first open-heart surgeries in children using a heart-lung machine developed here. This early success brought children from throughout the United States and other countries to Mayo Clinic. This helped usher in the field of pediatric cardiac surgery.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, has been recognized as one of the top Cardiology & Heart Surgery hospitals in the nation for 2022-2023 by U.S. News & World Report.

To this day, pediatric cardiac surgeons at Mayo Clinic strive to provide the best care for children and develop the care of the future through research and innovation.

When your child needs cardiac surgery, you'll find the multidisciplinary team of experts you need at Mayo Clinic Children's Center in Rochester, Minnesota. The Pediatric Cardiac Surgery team and Pediatric Cardiology have extensive experience treating infants and children with serious heart conditions, such as tetralogy and transposition, and rare conditions, such as Ebstein anomaly, truncus arteriosus, tracheobronchial anomalies and conditions diagnosed during pregnancy. Mayo Clinic is also active in the emerging frontier of fetal intervention for heart defects.

Mayo Clinic surgeons have always been leaders in the specialty of cardiovascular surgery, including as presidents of the Congenital Heart Surgeons' Society, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the American Association for Thoracic Surgery.

Expertise and special programs

A pediatric cardiac surgeon operates. Teamwork in pediatric heart surgery

A pediatric cardiac surgeon at work with her team.

Mayo Clinic has long been a destination medical center for parents seeking the best treatment for their children with complicated heart disease. Its multidisciplinary medical and surgical teams together review cases, in person and electronically, of people from all over the world who are seeking advice and recommendations. The clinic's pediatric cardiac surgeons treat many diseases and conditions. A few of the areas with internationally known expertise and special programs include:

  • Structural heart disease and valve repair. Mayo Clinic surgeons are expert in evaluating and treating people with valve conditions, such as aortic valve defects, mitral and tricuspid regurgitation, and valve problems in a single-ventricle heart. They also do many surgeries on the aorta, especially in children and adults with aortic valve disease, Marfan syndrome and other connective tissue diseases. One technique in which Mayo Clinic has exceled for decades is called the Ross procedure, for aortic valve disease. More than 2,000 people have cardiac surgery for heart valve conditions at Mayo Clinic each year.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and septal myectomy. Mayo surgeons have introduced new surgical techniques for both obstructive and nonobstructive cardiomyopathy. These innovations have helped countless people and changed the approach used by surgeons worldwide. Mayo physician-researchers continue to make advances in imaging, arrhythmia treatment and defibrillator strategies to prevent sudden death.
  • Ebstein anomaly. Mayo Clinic is widely respected for its expertise in Ebstein anomaly. The clinic's heart surgeons have refined repair techniques, including the cone reconstruction. This repair has proved to be effective with a low incidence of reoperation and is now the standard of care for this rare condition. Primary tricuspid valve repair rates now exceed 98% for children and 90% for people of all ages. Mayo has the world's largest surgical experience in this procedure — more than 1,400 surgeries since 1972.
  • Fontan and heart failure procedures and Heart Transplant Program. Mayo Clinic is a leading institution for treating people with a single ventricle, and surgeons here helped develop and modify the Fontan procedure that was first used in the early 1970s. Mayo's physician-researchers continue to advance the surgical treatment options for Fontan circulation.

    Mayo Clinic also has one of the largest and most successful heart and multiple organ transplant programs in the United States. The success of surgery for heart failure and the transplantation program — in newborns, children and adults — is largely due to the long-standing collaboration between pediatric and adult specialists.

  • Minimally invasive and robot-assisted heart surgery. Technology for treating structural heart defects is advancing rapidly. In selected people, minimal incisions or robot-assisted techniques might be used, which can result in less pain and shorter recovery time. The multidisciplinary team approach ensures that all options are considered so that each person gets the right care at the right time.
  • Fetal cardiac intervention. There is growing interest worldwide in fetal cardiac intervention for selected heart defects. Mayo Clinic is at the forefront of fetal surgery. Its maternal fetal medicine specialists and surgeons work together to facilitate several complex interventions for heart defects. This results in optimal care for both mother and fetus and ensures a seamless transition from fetal life to birth.

Learn about some of the tests and procedures used to diagnose and treat heart conditions.

Team approach, tailored to your child's needs

The combination of focused expertise and strong cooperation among many specialties in the care of each child is a hallmark of Mayo Clinic. Surgeons and cardiologists, as well as other specialists, collaborate to accurately diagnose and treat your child. The care team often includes experts in radiology and imaging, critical care, fetal and maternal medicine, neonatology, infectious diseases, pulmonology, gastroenterology, and hematology, as needed.

Team rounds that include family members for shared decision-making occur daily. Your care team works with you to develop a treatment approach tailored to your child's needs, with a clear discharge plan for when you go home. In addition, Mayo Clinic is world-renowned for treating adult congenital heart disease, and is adept at providing a smooth transition for your child as he or she enters the adult years.

Your child's surgery is performed by a team of pediatric experts led by your pediatric cardiac surgeon. All neonatal and complex operations are routinely performed by two senior surgeons. The nursing team also is critical to optimal care and is your link between your child and the physician staff.

For children who need more than one procedure, the clinic strives to provide the same nurses, providing continuity for you and your child. Care teams might also include dietitians, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists, child life specialists, and others, as needed. Child life specialists help you and your child deal with natural fears about illness, medical procedures and hospital care.

Advanced surgical and critical care suites

At Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, cardiovascular surgery is performed at Mayo Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys Campus (including Mayo Eugenio Litta Children's Hospital) in highly advanced imaging facilities, operating rooms and catheterization laboratories designed with the specific needs of children in mind.

Mayo Clinic has a dedicated congenital cardiovascular surgery unit that features private rooms and a one-to-one nursing staffing ratio. The nurses and advanced practitioners are specially trained in treating infants, children and adolescents with complex heart disease. As children progress, they are transitioned to the neighboring progressive care unit until they leave for home. Before surgery, babies are cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit by experienced specialists in neonatology, along with the surgical team, until the day of surgery.

A pediatric cardiovascular surgery collaboration that benefits children

Mayo Clinic and Children's Minnesota have established a unique pediatric cardiovascular surgery collaboration to share physician talent and resources. Mayo Clinic and Children's Minnesota each bring their own highly specialized team of experts to provide services at the other's sites, as well as participate in joint quality review and shared education. Children with congenital (from birth) heart disease benefit from the doctors of both institutions sharing talent and resources in order to provide the highest quality pediatric cardiovascular surgery.

Feb. 04, 2022