At the Children's Heart Center, quality of care is our top priority. We closely monitor our surgical and non-surgical outcomes and volumes and make this data available so that parents have the most accurate information available as they choose the best hospital for their child's heart surgery.
Studies have shown that cardiac programs that perform a higher volume of heart surgeries may lead to better outcomes. These facilities typically have experienced heart surgeons who treat a variety of heart conditions, highly skilled staff and dedicated facilities to provide specialized postoperative care for heart patients.
As one of the largest pediatric cardiac programs in the country, the Children’s Heart Center:
- Performs more heart surgeries than anyone else in Georgia.
- Performs some of the most complex procedures, with excellent outcomes.
- Is ranked top five in the nation for Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) and Cardiac Acute Care Unit Volumes (CACU).
- Is ranked in the top 5 in the nation for total pediatric heart transplant volumes since the program’s inception in 1988.
Cardiothoracic Surgery Case Volumes
Cardiothoracic surgery is any surgery related to or involving the organs in the chest, which includes heart surgery. The Children’s Heart Center performs hundreds of cardiothoracic surgeries each year.
A heart catheterization is a nonsurgical procedure that can be used to diagnose heart defects, their location and severity. It can also be used to treat certain heart conditions without surgery. We offer a complete range of interventional catheterization procedures, including balloon valvuloplasty, angioplasty of vessels, stenting, atrial septal defect (ASD) and ventricular septal defect (VSD) occlusion and transcatheter pulmonary valve replacement. In 2022, our cardiac catheterization team performed nearly 1,200 catheterization procedures.
How We Compare Heart Surgery Outcomes
While the Children’s Heart Center performs many types of heart surgeries, there are 10 procedures called benchmark procedures that are used to compare the performance of surgical centers. The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) collects and averages survival rates of these 10 procedures from facilities across the country to determine the national average, or STS benchmark. We monitor our surgical outcomes and compare them with the STS benchmark. Children's data (below) shows the number of benchmark procedures performed and their survival rates compared to the national average from January 2019 to December 2022.
Survival Rate by Complexity
STAT category refers to a method of categorizing surgeries based on how risky or complex they are. STAT 1 surgeries have the lowest risk of death, while STAT 5 represents surgeries with the highest risk.
STAT 1: Patch repair of the atrial septal defect (ASD), ventricular septal defect (VSD) or pulmonary valve replacement
STAT 2: Ross procedure, Fontan procedure, tricuspid valve repair
STAT 3: Complete AV canal (AVC) repair, arterial switch operation (ASO)
STAT 4: Blalock-Taussig-Thomas (BTT) shunt, heart transplant, truncus arteriosus repair
STAT 5: Norwood procedure
Length of Stay
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta uses a process called Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) to help reduce complications, better manage post-surgery pain and get kids home sooner. Our postoperative length of stay for heart surgeries is less than the national average.
Kids at Heart Program
The Kids at Heart Program offers social, emotional and educational support programs to help parents, caregivers and families of heart patients at the Children's Heart Center.
The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) performs assessments of transplant outcomes every six months by looking at the outcomes of patients who underwent transplant over two and a half years. According to the SRTR, the Children’s Heart Center has a better heart transplant survival rate than the national average.
We publicly report our outcomes on our website and through U.S. News & World Report, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) and the Conquering CHD Hospital Navigator. We also submit data to various clinical data registries and collaboratives, which allows us to compare ourselves to other pediatric heart centers to continuously improve the outcomes for our patients.
The Future of Pediatric Care
We are building a new, state-of-the-art campus designed to develop innovative research, help clinicians deliver the highest-quality heart care and improve outcomes.