The Pediatric and Congenital Heart program at Brenner Children's is dedicated to excellent patient-centered care and outcomes. We have assembled experts from all over the country to provide our families with options that are state-of-the-art. We support a culture that promotes collaborative, multidisciplinary care across the entire spectrum of care providers. Our team of experts consist of surgeons, cardiologists, pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists and a dedicated pediatric perfusion team. Together we combine experience, nationally recognized expertise, and dedicated pediatric cardiac care.
New! A unified heart program with two locations:
With a goal of creating a best-in-class heart program for patients across the Carolinas and beyond, physicians and teammates specializing in pediatric heart care at Brenner Children’s and Atrium Health Levine Children’s are combining into one fully comprehensive team, working together to lead the region’s strongest pediatric heart program. Our patients will get even more of the exceptional care they deserve, from a fully integrated team of the region’s best pediatric heart specialists.
- General and specialized pediatric cardiologists
- Dedicated adult congenital heart disease cardiologist
- Intra-operative specialized trans-esophageal echocardiograms
- Weekly multi-disciplinary patient care conferences
- Dedicated pediatric and congenital heart nurses and sonographers
Expansive Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery
Brenner Children’s has always delivered exceptional cardiac surgery outcomes, and we’re evolving to be better than ever. In addition to our expanding surgical team in Winston-Salem, our program includes the U.S. News & World Report-awarded heart surgeons at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte. Our combined teams include:
- Dedicated pediatric and congenital cardiovascular surgery team
- Dedicated pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists
- Dedicated pediatric perfusion team
- Collaboration with adult heart and vascular surgeons
Pediatric Intensive Care
- In-house 24/7 dedicated intensive care physicians
- Daily multi-disciplinary patient care rounds
- Pediatric trained intensive care nurses and staff
- Dedicated ECMO team
- Family-centered visiting hours
Early Detection of Heart Conditions
Our clinical team works closely with families when heart abnormalities or arrhythmias are detected in a child before he or she is born to prepare for the infant’s arrival. We provide a full spectrum of care for our patients in utero and as premature infants, young children, teens, young adults and throughout their lives.
We have the only cardiovascular genetics clinic in North Carolina – and one of only a few in the Southeast. Led by a doctor specialized in cardiovascular genetic disorders, we’re a one-stop shop for children with genetic heart concerns. From Marfan syndrome to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, patients can undergo examinations, treatments and genetic testing all in the same visit.
Communication During Treatment and Care
We understand the important role that parents and families play in the treatment of children and young adults with heart conditions. Our health care professionals make sure that parents and other family members clearly understand each step in the treatment process and we maintain close communication with our patients’ families throughout their treatment period.
Pediatric Cardiology Services
The Arrhythmia Clinic at Brenner Children’s provides comprehensive treatment for children with heart rhythm problems through medications and medical and surgical technology. Clinical services for arrhythmia pediatric patients include:
- Radiofrequency ablation – The elimination of the heart muscle cells that trigger the arrhythmia through high-frequency radio waves sent into the muscle cells via a catheter
- Pacemaker implantation – The implantation of a small, battery-powered device that sends electrical signals to the heart to maintain a regular heartbeat
- Cryoablation – The use of extreme cold to remove dysfunctional heart tissue
- Advanced electroanatomic mapping –Displaying the interior of the heart in three-dimensional shape to detect the location of the heart problem
The Cardiac Catheterization Lab and Interventional Cardiology team uses minimally invasive procedures to diagnose and treat heart conditions such as atrial septal defect (ASD), ventricular septal defect (VSD) and patient ductus arteriosus (PDA). Procedures offered by the lab include:
- Diagnostic catheterization – a long, thin tube is inserted in a patient’s body to inject a special dye, which shows narrowed areas in arteries and aids in assessing potential pulmonary problems
- Heart Valve Implantation – whether valve leakage, obstruction, or both, some valves can be replaced without open heart surgery
- Pulmonary vasodilator testing – A test to determine how much a patient’s pulmonary blood vessels can relax over a certain period of time
- Heart biopsy – A procedure in which a small piece of heart tissue is removed from the heart to aid in diagnosis
- Stent and coil placement – Treatment in which a tiny tube or coil is inserted into a blocked vessel to prop the vessel open and ensure it stays clear
- Balloon dilation – The opening of a blocked vessel using a balloon-like device at the narrowest spot in an artery
Brenner Children's Echocardiography and Cardiac Imaging Unit utilizes state-of-the art equipment, technology and techniques to diagnose heart problems and conditions in our pediatric patients. Diagnostic services and tools offered by this unit include:
- 3-D, real time echocardiography – Displays real-time images of the heart beating in three dimensions
- Computerized tomography angiography (CTA) – An x-ray in which contrast material is injected into a vein in order to obtain multidimensional images of blood vessels and heart tissues
- Magnetic resonance imaging/magnetic resonance angiography (MRI/MRA) – Detailed images of the heart and major vessels are obtained through the use of magnetic fields and radio waves
- Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) – High frequency sound waves are used to obtain images of the heart’s valves and chambers
- Intracardiac echocardiography (ICE) – The exact location of a patent foramen oval (PFO) or atrial septal defect (ASD) is determined in order to accurately close the hole in a clinical procedure
Cardiac MRI (cMRI/CMR) is a non-invasive imaging test utilizing specialized technologies to create both still and moving pictures of the heart. At Brenner Children’s, our cardiac MRI program is supervised by and tests are interpreted by a dedicated pediatric cardiologist with specialized training in performing these studies in infants, children, and adults with congenital heart disease.
Brenner is one of the few hospitals in the state that offers this highly specialized diagnostic service to pediatric and adult patients. The team also consists of MRI technologists who have specialized training in cardiac MRI and will guide you or your child through the potentially unfamiliar process with empathy and compassion.
How a Pediatric Cardiac MRI is Used
In pediatric and congenital cardiology, cardiac MRI is used as a complementary imaging modality to echocardiography (cardiac ultrasound). In some patients, cardiac MRI is utilized because it is difficult to obtain the clarity of images needed for definitive diagnoses with echocardiography alone.
Cardiac MRI testing has the ability to give reproducible quantitative data about:
- the size of the heart chambers
- heart function
- blood flow
In many cases, a contrast agent is used to create 3-D pictures of the blood vessels connected to the heart to help guide medical and/or surgical decision making. The contrast can also help identify areas of scaring in the heart if it has been injured by certain disorders or prior surgeries.
Cardiac MRI is unique in that it does not use radiation and thus has no potential to increase the risk of cancer. This is especially important in infants and children, women, and patients that have already had to receive substantial amounts of radiation in the past because of necessary procedures or tests like cardiac catheterizations’, x-rays and /or CT scans.
The Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic at Brenner is the only clinic in the region that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary hypertension.
Led by Derek Williams, DO, we use all available methods of testing, such as blood tests, chest x-rays, echocardiograms and cardiac catheterization, to effectively diagnose children with pulmonary hypertension. Once a diagnosis is made, our team of pulmonary hypertension clinical experts proceeds with a treatment plan using the most effective medications available.
The pediatric cardiologists at Brenner Children's Heart Program use telemedicine – remote medical examinations conducted via audio and video – to view and interpret echocardiograms (ultrasounds of the heart) performed at doctors’ offices and hospitals throughout the region.
Your child can have his or her echocardiogram conducted close to home, but still have our pediatric cardiology experts review the ultrasound to see if any heart problems exist.