It can be frightening to learn that your child has a congenital heart defect (heart defect since birth). But these are relatively common; 8 to 10 babies per 1000 live births are born with a heart defect.
Earlier the only option for treatment of these defects was surgical repair – open heart surgery in most of the cases, requiring prolonged hospitalization and a long recovery period. But now with the advancement of medical technology, many of these defects can be treated non-surgically via catheter procedures.
Catheter procedures are much easier on the child than surgery. For the repair of holes in the heart (ASD/VSD/PDA), the doctor makes a small puncture in the groin (upper thigh) and inserts a catheter into the veins/artery. The catheter helps deliver a metallic device into the heart that plugs the hole in the heart.
In the case of a narrowed valve in the heart, the same catheter technique is used, to deliver a tiny balloon that is quickly inflated to push apart the doors of the valve and resume proper blood flow.
The biggest advantage of this technique is the avoidance of surgical scars and stitches, minimal pain, quick recovery, and success rate similar to surgery. The patient is discharged within 2-3 days. These procedures offer a lifelong and permanent cure in most cases.
These non-surgical procedures are routinely performed by pediatric cardiologists – who are specifically trained in treating children including newborns for heart defects. Many congenital heart defects can be treated through a minimally invasive technique too – do consult your pediatric cardiologist for treatment options.