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Heart Surgery

CHOC is the only hospital in Orange County to provide advanced pediatric cardiac surgical care. The hospital’s impressive offering of surgical services includes dedicated, cardiovascular operating rooms with extracorporeal life support (ECLS)—a life-saving technology not found anywhere else in the county. Moreover, we are the only facility in Orange County that performs newborn and pediatric open-heart surgery and have done so on infants weighing as little at 1.4 kilograms (3 pounds 1 ounce).

The Heart Institute’s surgical team offers the latest in cardiac surgical techniques to repair congenital heart defects in patients of all ages, and includes board-certified, pediatrics-trained heart surgeons and cardiac anesthesiologists. We offer a full range of surgical procedures to correct congenital heart defects including:

We are also proud to offer the Norwood procedure for hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

Big Innovations for Tiny Hearts

CHOC Children’s has long been a leader in cardiac surgical care. Dr. Richard Gates, CHOC Children’s surgeon-in-chief and medical director of the Heart Institute, was instrumental in the development of new systems used to protect children’s hearts during surgery and improve heart-lung machine technology. Although previously available for adults, Dr. Gates worked with bioengineers at Quest Medical to develop techniques and instrumentations that could be used to bring cardiopulmonary bypass technology to children–including babies as small as 2 kilograms (4 pounds 6.5 ounces).

Together, Dr. Gates and Quest Medical developed the pediatric myocardial protection system (MPS) that delivers oxygen to the heart during open-heart surgery. CHOC was the very first institution to offer this lifesaving technology that is now used in more than 60 institutions around the globe. We are continuing to lead the way in raising the standard of care and surgical outcomes for neonates undergoing open heart surgery.

Traditionally, a baby’s body temperature is lowered to close to 18 degrees Celsius (approximately 64 degrees Fahrenheit) for surgeries including procedures to repair hypoplastic left heart syndrome, truncus arteriosis, arterial switch and transposition of the great vessels. Although this is a generally accepted practice around the world, lowering a baby’s body temperature can lead to neurological damage that can have both short- and long-term consequences.

At CHOC, we are dedicated to not only caring for each child’s immediate health concerns, but their long-term health as well. Because of this, our surgeons have successfully pioneered surgical techniques that can be used to maintain a child’s normal circulation and body temperature during surgery. We are the only hospital in Southern California providing surgeries to neonates without cooling the child’s body temperature and actively participate in research studies documenting the neurological benefits of these techniques. Moreover, our experts have presented these groundbreaking techniques to other pediatric surgeons from around the world at meetings and conferences for the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the Congenital Heart Surgeons Society.

Dr. Richard Gates - Heart Surgery

Committed to Safety

The Heart Institute is committed to safe surgical outcomes and the highest quality of care possible for our patients. Learn more about our high standard of heart surgery safety and survival rates.

For more than a decade, CHOC has been a member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) National Database, an international benchmarking organization that sets the highest standards for hospitals performing heart surgery. CHOC was among the first 15 institutions to join the registry and report surgical outcome data. Today, there are more than 130 premiere hospitals in the database.

CHOC boasts a 97.1% overall survival rate and a 91.4% neonatal survival rate, both higher than the national average.

We credit our strong survival rates to our commitments to continuously innovating safer, more technologically advanced procedures; the installation of the very latest safety and automation technologies in our operating rooms; and having state-of-the-art medical records and documentation systems. CHOC is also consistently ranked as one of the Top Hospitals by the Leapfrog Group, which recognizes hospitals nationwide that provide high-quality, safe care.

Heart Valve Repair or Replacement

At CHOC Children’s our expert surgeons provide the very latest heart valve repair and replacement in our state-of-the-art procedure center. They, along with the rest of the child’s cardiac care team, work with each child’s family to come up with a surgical treatment plan that not only takes into consideration the child’s current health needs, but those in the future. Learn more about heart valve repair and replacement surgery.

Information at the Heart of the Matter

When a family learns their child may need heart surgery, it is natural to have a lot of questions. At CHOC Children’s, we understand this and are by each family’s side every step of the way. Knowing more about CHOC and the services we provide can help make this stressful time easier for both the patient and family. We encourage families to learn more about:

Knowledge is the best medicine.

Kids and Heart Surgery
In the newborn population, there are many heart conditions that may need surgery. Many of these heart surgeries are new at least in the past 10 to 20 years.


CVICU Provides Post-Procedure Care to Heart Patients
Patients who have undergone complex, cardiovascular procedures at the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute require specialized care and attention.


Cyrus’ story
Learn about our courageous patient, Cyrus, who underwent complex open heart surgery. His successful journey was met by much celebration from his family and his team of CHOC experts.


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UC Irvine

CHOC Children's is affiliated with the UC Irvine School of Medicine