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The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Heart Center performs hundreds of heart surgeries each year. And because quality of care is our highest priority, we monitor our cardiac surgical and non-surgical outcomes and volumes to provide accurate and up-to-date information to patients and their families. Our focus on outcomes strengthens our mission is to continually improve and help our heart patients live healthy lives.

To support our commitment to transparency, we publicly report our outcomes on our website and through the 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 clinical data registries and collaboratives include: 

  • Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) Congenital Heart Surgery Database for surgical outcomes. The STS has the largest congenital heart surgery database in the nation. Data from more than 100 hospitals is captured by STS to compare outcomes between heart programs across the country. We compare our outcomes to other STS pediatric heart surgery centers.
  • Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Consortium (PC4) data registry for all medical and surgical patients admitted to a cardiac intensive care unit (CICU).
  • Pediatric Acute Care Cardiology Collaborative (PAC3) data registry for all patients in a cardiac acute care unit (CACU).
  • National Pediatric Cardiology Quality Improvement Collaborative (NPC-QIC), which encompasses clinical process and outcomes data centered on the care of infants with single ventricle heart disease from prenatal diagnosis through their first year of life.
  • Improving Pediatric and Adult Congenital Treatment (IMPACT) data registry for pediatric and adult CHD patients who undergo diagnostic catheterizations and catheter-based interventions.
  • Clinical Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Outcome Collaborative (CNOC) clinical registry, a multicenter, multinational, collaborative data resource that works to optimize neurodevelopmental outcomes for individuals with pediatric and congenital heart disease.
  • Pediatric Heart Transplant Society (PHTS), an international prospective, event-driven database for children undergoing heart transplantation.

The Children's Heart Center is one of the largest pediatric cardiac programs in the country. We are top five in the nation for Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) and Cardiac Acute Care Unit (CACU) volumes, and we are top 10 in the nation for pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, pediatric heart transplant and catheterization procedure volumes.

View below for volume data for Children's cardiac procedures, cardiothoracic surgery cases and catheterization procedures.

Children’s data shows the number of procedures performed from January 2017 to December 2020.

Cardiac Procedure Volumes

Cardiothoracic surgery is any surgery related to or involving the organs in the chest, primarily the heart and the vessels that bring blood to and from the heart and lungs.

Cardiothoracic Surgery Case Volumes

A heart catheterization is a nonsurgical procedure used to find out what kind of heart defect your child may have, its location in the heart and how severe it is. Some heart defects can be treated by a catheterization instead of heart surgery. Our cardiac catheterization team handles one of the largest volumes of pediatric heart catheterizations in the U.S. We offer a complete range of interventional cardiac procedures, including balloon valvuloplasty, angioplasty of vessels, stenting, atrial septal defect (ASD) and ventricular septal defect (VSD) occlusion, and transcatheter pulmonary valve replacement. In 2020, our cardiac catheterization team performed more than 1,100 catheterization procedures, including 650 interventional and 205 diagnostic procedures.

Our survival rates by STAT category and one and three-year survival rates for heart transplant patients surpass the national average. Our average length-of-stay by STAT category is below the national benchmark, as our goal is to get our patients home as soon as possible.

View below for survival rates and length of stay by STAT category and one and three-year survival rates for heart transplant patients at Children's.

STAT category refers to a method of categorizing surgeries based on how risky or complex they are. STAT 1 surgeries include surgeries with the lowest risk of death, while STAT 5 surgeries have the highest risk of death. Examples include:

STAT 1: Patch repair of 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

Survival Rates by STAT Category

Survival Rates by STAT Category

Post-operative length of stay by STAT category

Children's data is based on surgeries performed from January 2017 to December 2020, and STS data is based on surgeries performed from January 2015 to December 2018, as reported in the fall 2019 STS Congenital Heart Surgery Database Report.

Post Operative Median Length of Stay

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, our Heart Center has a better heart transplant survival rate than the national average.

For heart transplants that were performed at the Children’s Heart Center between July 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2019, 96.43% of pediatric patients were alive with a functioning transplant one year after transplant, compared to a national average of 92.47%.

 

1-year pediatric heart transplant survival rates

For heart transplants that were performed at the Children’s Heart Center between Jan. 1, 2015 and June 30, 2017, 95.74% of pediatric patients were alive with a functioning transplant three years after transplant, compared to a national average of 89.44%.

 

3-year pediatric heart transplant survival rates

Survival Rates by Procedure

The following procedures are common cardiothoracic procedures used by STS to compare the performance of surgical centers across the country.

Survival Rate by Procedure

This procedure is an open-heart surgery to correct transposition of the great arteries (TGA). During this surgery, the aorta and pulmonary artery are moved or switched back to the correct ventricle. The coronary arteries are also moved and attached back to the aorta. Children born with TGA will require life-long, follow-up care by a cardiologist.

Arterial Switch Operation Survival Rate

In addition to moving the aorta and pulmonary artery back to the correct ventricle in the Arterial Switch Operation, the surgeon closes the ventricular septal defect (VSD), or hole, between the two lower chambers of the heart. The coronary arteries are also moved back onto the aorta. Children born with a TGA and VSD will require life-long, follow-up care by a cardiologist.

Arterial Switch Operation (ASO) and Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) Survival Rate

The surgery for atrioventricular canal (AVC) involves closing a large opening or hole that extends from the upper chambers (atria) to the lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart. An abnormal common valve is present and is rebuilt into the mitral and tricuspid valves. Children born with AVC will need life-long, follow-up care by a cardiologist.

Atrioventricular Canal Repair Survival Rate

This surgery is done as the last stage for patients born with a single ventricle, like HLHS. The surgeon connects the child’s inferior vena cava (IVC), a large vein from the lower body, directly to the lung artery to increase oxygen levels and decrease the amount of work placed on the heart. Children born with single ventricle will need life-long follow-up by a cardiologist.

Fontan Survival Rate

This surgery is generally done as the second stage for patients born with a single ventricle, like HLHS, and occurs when the infant is 4 to 6 months old. The surgeon connects the child’s superior vena cava (SVC), a large vein from the upper body, directly to the lung artery. It allows the SVC to supply the lungs with blood and serves as a shunt, giving the child a few years to grow before the Fontan. Children born with a single ventricle will need life-long follow-up by a cardiologist.

Glenn Hemi-Fontan Survival Rate

This surgery is needed for patients born with a single ventricle , like HLHS . The Norwood procedure is usually done in the first week of life. A new or “neo” aorta is made from part of the pulmonary artery and the tiny aorta which is enlarged to provide blood flow to the body. A small tube graft is placed either from an artery coming off the aorta to the lung artery (called a modified Blalock-Taussig-Thomas shunt) or from the right ventricle to the lung artery (called a Sano shunt). Children born with a single ventricle will need life-long follow-up by a cardiologist.

 

Norwood Survival Rate

This open heart surgery opens up blockage from the right pumping chamber of the heart and closes existing holes. Some infants require a temporary tube supplying blood to the lungs prior to surgery.

Tetralogy of Fallot Repair Survival Rate

This congenital defect requires surgery to detach the pulmonary arteries from the common artery and connect them to the right ventricle using a valve-containing tube. A patch is used to close the ventricular septal defect.

Truncus Arteriosus Repair Survival Rate

Surgery is required to close a VSD, an abnormal opening between the two lower pumping chambers of the heart. The hole may be closed in a variety of ways depending on its size.

Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) Repair Survival Rate

Our team works tirelessly to provide quality care to all patients treated at our Heart Center and take precautions to reduce the risk of infections. View below for Children’s CLABSI and surgical site infection rates.

A central line, also known as a central venous line, or CVL, is a special type of intravenous line. A central line-associated bloodstream infection, or CLABSI, happens when bacteria, or more rarely fungus, grows in your child's central line or bloodstream. A CLABSI is serious and requires that your child get antibiotics immediately. If not handled correctly, it can even cause death. Your child's care team follows guidelines to help prevent your child from getting a CLABSI.

Throughout 2020 (December 2019 to November 2020), our Heart Center had a low rate of CLABSIs, performing much better than other pediatric hospitals that are also members of the Solutions for Patient Safety (SPS), a national children's network of hospitals sharing a common vision of preventing serious harm in hospitalized children. SPS is used as a benchmark to measure patient safety.

CLABSI Rate

A surgical site infection (SSI) is an infection that occurs after surgery in the area where the procedure took place. SSIs can be superficial infections involving only the skin, but they can also consist of more serious and involve tissues under the skin, organs, or implanted material. SSIs are typically treated with antibiotics. The type of antibiotic given depends on the bacteria, or germs, causing the infection. Your child's care team follows Solutions for Patient Safety (SPS) guidelines to help prevent your child from getting an SSI.

Between December 2019 and November 2020, our Heart Center had a low rate of SSIs, performing much better than other pediatric hospitals that are also members of SPS, a national children's network of hospitals sharing a common vision of preventing serious harm in hospitalized children. SPS is used as a benchmark to measure patient safety.

Surgical site infection rate