Comprehensive Congenital Heart Care at Inova L.J. Murphy Children’s Hospital

At Inova Children’s Heart Center, our team provides the most advanced, comprehensive care for children and adults with all forms of congenital heart disease. Earlier this year, we welcomed internationally recognized pediatric heart surgeon, James St. Louis, MD, who brings expertise in advanced heart failure therapies for children with neonatal heart differences. We also added a specialist in adult congenital heart disease and a cardiologist-radiologist, specially trained in advanced cardiac imaging.

“Inova has been a respected program for decades, and we continue to build on our vision to be a top program in congenital heart care nationally,” says Dr. St. Louis. “Our goal is to offer complex congenital surgeries, transplants and devices, and increase our patient volume. By consolidating pre-op into one dedicated physician group, adding a new OR, hybrid cath lab and EP facilities, and creating an independent, stand-alone pediatric cardiac ICU (CICU), that’s the direction we’re headed.”

Cora’s Story

Two-year-old Cora exemplifies the power of our unique approach. After a fetal ultrasound detected a single ventricle congenital heart difference, Cora’s parents came to Inova’s Fetal Care Clinic for counseling. The team determined that Cora would need staged surgeries to rebuild her heart and ensure it functions with only one pumping chamber. Inova Children’s Heart Center specialists worked together with the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and maternal fetal medicine team to prepare for her birth and immediate care needs.

When Cora was born, the team was ready to get her through the critical first 24 hours. She was transferred to the CICU, where cardiologists, surgeons and radiologists reviewed her images and determined she also had significant mitral valve regurgitation, which increased the complexity of her case. They worked with respiratory therapy, ICU, nutrition, the NICU and pediatric anesthesiology to develop a customized treatment plan.

After successful surgery, Cora was able to go home where she was closely followed by Inova’s high-risk single ventricle clinic. She returned for her second-stage operation at four months. Due to her rapid breathing and marginal oxygen levels, the team determined she would need a third procedure to complete the stages of palliation for her heart. This surgery was performed when she turned two. She is now a happy little girl at home with her family.

“Cora is a great example of our program’s capabilities,” says Lucas Collazo, MD, pediatric heart surgeon. “Our approach to caring for these children is multidisciplinary. We work closely with the family – from prenatal diagnosis through all stages of surgery to close outpatient follow-up care. At every stage, she received excellent care from the entire heart center team.”

Cora waving bye after her last post-op appointment.

What Sets Inova Children’s Heart Center Apart

Our program goes beyond clinical excellence to offer families care and connection during a stressful and uncertain time. Each case is personal for us. Our team engages with the family from the moment they walk through our doors.

We do everything we can to make sure families are well cared for and have the resources they need to meet complex medical challenges. Interstage navigators are available to help at any time. Seeing families prenatally means we are prepared for each baby’s unique care needs. In addition, we are one of only a handful of programs offering a seamless connection between pediatric and adult care.

“We treated Cora and her family like part of our family; they treated us like part of theirs,“ Dr. Collazo says.” She will continue to need complex multispecialty care into adulthood. Our hope is that she’ll have as normal a life as possible.”

Inova Children’s Heart Center is one of the largest and most successful in the mid-Atlantic region. Based at the state-of-the-art Inova L.J. Murphy Children’s Hospital and outpatient cardiology clinics throughout Northern Virginia and Maryland, we provide specialized care to children of all ages. Inova Children’s Heart Center sits alongside Inova Women’s Hospital and Inova Heart and Vascular Institute located on the Inova Fairfax Medical Campus. Please contact us to schedule an appointment at 703-573-0704.

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