Department of Cardiac Surgery

The Department of Cardiac Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital has been at the forefront of pediatric heart surgery since 1938, when Robert Gross, MD, performed the first operation to correct a congenital heart defect.

In the years since that groundbreaking procedure, our Department of Cardiac Surgery has grown to become the largest in the United States and one of the most specialized in the world. We routinely operate on children that are deemed too complex for other heart centers, while still achieving some of the best success rates in the world. 

We work in collaboration with other specialists and programs within the Heart Center as well as other departments throughout Boston Children’s. We also coordinate with each patient’s local pediatrician or heart specialist to ensure continuity of care for even the most complex cases.

Our department encompasses five specific surgical programs:

Our depth of experience in cardiac surgery

Our group of 10 cardiac surgeons is dedicated to treating patients with congenital heart disease and other rare heart conditions. Each year, our surgeons perform more than 1,000 surgeries, on both children and adults. This depth of experience translates to better outcomes. It also means that our surgeons can specialize in different areas of cardiac surgery and push the boundaries of what was previously possible in each of their areas.

Your child’s care team will be made up of cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, cardiac anesthesiologists, cardiovascular nurses and imaging technicians — all of whom are specifically trained in treating pediatric heart conditions.

From your first visit through surgery, you’ll work with a team of professionals who are committed to supporting you child’s medical, physical and emotional needs — making your family’s experience as manageable as possible.

Learn more about what to expect during your child’s pre-operative appointment and on the day of surgery.

Neonatal Cardiac Care Consortium

To provide the most surgical team works closely with intensive care clinicians, anesthesiologists and neonatologists to provide comprehensive care for newborns with heart disease. We also work collaboration with the Fetal Cardiology Program to provide a seamless transition of care for pregnant women whose babies are diagnosed prenatally with a congenital heart condition

Enhanced Recovery After Cardiac Surgery (ERAS Cardiac)

Our surgical team has adopted Enhanced Recovery After Cardiac Surgery (ERAS Cardiac) practices. ERAS Cardiac is an initiative in surgical care designed to achieve early recovery for patients. This approach uses evidence-based guidelines to quicken recovery, reduce complications, decrease time in the hospital, and improve patient and family satisfaction

Leaders in research and innovation

Over the past five plus decades, the Department of Cardiac Surgery at Boston Children’s has pioneered research and innovations that have dramatically improved survival rates and the quality of life for children born with heart defects. Our surgeons have led the way in developing groundbreaking surgical innovations, pushing boundaries and correcting ever more complex abnormalities.

Recent innovations include:

  • using a child’s own umbilical cord to create a shunt for heart surgery
  • developing a heart sleeve to help failing hearts by twisting and compressing the heart’s chambers just like healthy cardiac muscle
  • creating a microscope that helps view the conduction system in the heart during an operation
  • using mitochondrial transplantation to boost failing hearts

As a department, we are dedicated to innovation — solving difficult problems others haven't been able to solve and tackling the most complex cases — all while keeping patient comfort and experience at top of mind.

Outstanding outcomes

Despite treating some of the most complex pediatric heart conditions in the world, the Cardiac Surgery Program at Boston Children's has some of the best success rates.

Cardiac surgery outcomes graph