Center for Single Ventricle Care
Columbia's Center for Single Ventricle Care, located at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, offers among the best prenatal, surgical, and pediatric cardiac care in the United States for babies with single ventricle heart defects. Our team of specialists partners closely with you and your family to help your baby survive and thrive through the challenges of these complex heart repairs.
Single ventricle heart defects occur when one of the two lower chambers of the heart—the ventricles—has not developed properly. In a normal heart the right ventricle pumps low-oxygen blood to the lungs and the left ventricle pumps high-oxygen blood to the body. In children born with single ventricle defects, one (or sometimes both) of the ventricles does not work properly because it is underdeveloped or because a valve in one of the vessels connected to it is dysfunctional. Single ventricle defects are among the most serious forms of congenital heart disease.
Just a few decades ago, babies born with single ventricle defects generally did not survive long after birth. Due to advances in imaging and heart care, single ventricle defects can now be diagnosed before birth and successfully treated with a series of open-heart surgeries. With early intervention and expert monitoring and care, babies with single ventricle defects can live long and healthy lives.
A Multidisciplinary Team of Specialists
At Columbia your baby will be cared for by a team of specialists and care providers who work closely together so that your child can receive all the care he or she needs in one place. The single ventricle team includes experts in pediatric cardiology, maternal fetal medicine, pediatric cardiac surgery, neurodevelopment, neonatology, gastroenterology, general pediatrics, pulmonology, nursing, speech and swallowing therapy, social work, nutrition, and child life.
Prenatal Diagnosis and Care
With recent advances in imaging techniques, single ventricle defects can be diagnosed as early as the sixteenth week of pregnancy using fetal echocardiography. If your baby is diagnosed with a heart defect while you are pregnant, your care will begin at the Carmen and John Thain Center for Prenatal Pediatrics, one of the world's leading centers for prenatal diagnosis and care. During your pregnancy, our collaborative team of specialists will monitor your baby's growth closely and prepare a roadmap for the successful treatment and care of your baby after birth.
Knowing what to expect is key to both the medical and emotional preparation for the critical first days, weeks, and months of your child's life. Our center is designed to guide you through each step of this difficult time so that you can focus on caring for your baby.
Expert Care at Birth
The vast majority of babies with single ventricle defects are diagnosed prenatally or at birth. Whether your baby is born at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital or transferred from another hospital, he or she will be cared for in our Infant Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, which is dedicated solely to heart care for infants who are zero to three months of age. This state-of-the-art unit is the first of its kind in the United States. Here, a team of experts in infant heart care will provide round-the-clock monitoring and care for your baby, with your help.
Treatment and Monitoring
Babies born with single ventricle heart defects must undergo a series of open-heart surgeries. Because these surgeries happen at such a vulnerable time of life, it's important to have the best surgical care available. Our surgeons perform up to 750 pediatric and congenital heart defect surgeries—including 130 neonatal cardiac surgeries—every year, and we are the largest congenital heart defect referral center in the region, with the lowest mortality rate for pediatric heart surgery in the state.
We also have the largest ECMO program in the tristate area and among the best survival rates nationally and internationally. ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), is a short-term, life-saving therapy—a kind of artificial heart and lung—that we sometimes use during the first days and weeks of life for newborns and children with heart and lung defects.
We created the Interstage Surveillance Program to give special focus to your baby's health between his or her first two surgeries—one of the most vulnerable stages of treatment. The team at the Center for Single Ventricle Care works closely with your family during this time to keep a close watch on your baby and to intervene as needed. Part of the program involves training for you and your family, so that you will be able to take over monitoring when your baby goes home. During this time you will be in close contact with our nursing staff.
Between your child's second and third surgeries and afterward, your child will continue with regular care from your cardiologist.
Congenital heart defects require lifetime monitoring and your child will return for visits to our program throughout childhood. Eventually, we help our patients transition to the Schneeweiss Adult Congenital Heart Center, one of the oldest centers in the country for the care and treatment of congenital heart disease in adults.