Inova L.J. Murphy Children's Hospital > Pediatric Services > Children's Congenital Heart Disease

Children's Congenital Heart Disease

Young girl listening to doctor heart

When the heart or blood vessels near the heart do not develop normally before birth, a condition called congenital heart disease occurs (congenital means "existing at birth"). Heart defects are the most common type of birth defect, occurring in 1 out of every 120 live births. Most are detected at birth, but sometimes they do not present symptoms until adulthood.

Inova's highly specialized physicians offer care to newborns and children with congenital heart disease. Care can continue at Inova through adulthood since even when defects are repaired during infancy or childhood, people born with congenital heart problems need to be carefully followed as adults.

Click on the YouTube icon to view all videos on Inova's young congenital heart patients.

Our Team

Expert care and collaboration

gold badge: Best Children's Hospitals for cardiologyThe Congenital Heart Program at Inova Children’s Hospital, ranked 47th in the nation in cardiology by U.S. News & World Report (2015-2016), has been caring for the hearts of our region's children for more than 25 years. Every two weeks, a team of adult and pediatric cardiologists, electrophysiologists and cardiac surgeons meets to review patients and create an individualized treatment plan for each one.

A comprehensive pediatric heart program

In addition to caring for adults, we also have a separate Children's Heart Surgery Program at Inova, making us one of only a few hospitals in the country that cares for both populations.

Because we handle congenital heart disease in all stages, from birth to adulthood, we have a thorough understanding of the natural history of the disease and the techniques necessary to intervene with surgery at different points in time.

Physicians who are experienced with adult congenital heart disease include general cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, interventional cardiologists, electrophysiologists and vascular surgeons.

Our Experience

The only one in Northern Virginia

The Congenital Heart Clinic at Inova Heart and Vascular Institute was one of the first programs in the country designed to care for this special patient population. Today, it remains the only center of its kind in Northern Virginia.

Conditions and Treatments

Tailored to each patient

Treatment is based on the severity of the congenital heart disease. Some mild heart defects do not require any treatment. Others can be treated with medications, minimally invasive procedures or surgery.

Fortunately, an increasing number of congenital heart defects that once required surgery can now be treated with less invasive procedures. These procedures include:

  • Atrial septal defect (ASD) closure – This defect is a hole in the wall that separates the upper chambers of the heart. This causes blood to leak from one atrium to the other. A catheter (thin, flexible tube) is used to insert a small disk-like device, which is positioned across the defect and then allowed to expand, closing the hole.
  • Coarctation of the aorta – The aorta is the major artery that carries blood away from the heart to the body. With this defect, the aorta is narrowed. In some instances, a catheter is guide to guide a balloon, which is inflated to widen the narrow area. A stent can be left in place to keep the area widened.

How are we doing?

Read about some of our latest outcomes and highlights in the Pediatric Cardiac Outcomes report.