Children Undergoing Heart Surgery at Columbia Have Lowest Mortality in New York State

Children who have heart surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia have the lowest risk-adjusted mortality rate among all programs in New York state, according to a report published last fall describing pediatric congenital cardiac surgery in New York state from 2010 to 2013. 

The report compiled data from patients under 18 years of age who had surgery to correct congenital heart defects. New York is the only state that collects and releases this information about pediatric cardiac surgery.

“We are very pleased, and the results are a testament to the quality of all the doctors and nurses in the pediatric heart team,” says Emile Bacha, MD, chief of cardiac, thoracic, and vascular surgery.

According to the report, CUMC performed the most pediatric heart surgeries in the state–1,558 over four years–and had the lowest risk-adjusted mortality rate of 2.26, a rate that was significantly lower statistically than the statewide rate.

A unique aspect of Columbia’s pediatric heart team is the integration of neonatologists who specialize in heart disease. “I believe that these specialists have developed outstanding management skills of these babies that has helped us achieve superior results,” says Dr. Bacha. He also credits Columbia’s surgical and technical experience and multidisciplinary team approach.

“I advise parents that the experience of the team is the most important thing to ask about,” he says. “You want a center that does hundreds of cardiac surgeries a year, literally several surgeries every day. It’s also very important to seek care at a multidisciplinary unit if you’re pregnant and you know your child has a heart defect. Babies sometime get into trouble right after birth, and it’s better to have all the necessary resources under one roof.”

Columbia’s pediatric heart surgeons also participate in the Society for Thoracic Surgery’s Congenital Heart Surgery Database, which was created in 1989 to monitor patient care. In the past few years, surgical outcomes at Columbia have ranked among the best in North America.

Historically, Columbia surgeons have earned a position at the forefront of pediatric cardiac surgery through such achievements as the first successful pediatric heart transplant in 1984. Columbia is now one of a few centers in the United States to offer hybrid cardiac surgery—combining conventional surgical methods with catheter-based techniques—for infants and children.

Susan Conova

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