An incision may be made through the breastbone (sternum) and between the lungs (mediastinum) while the child is deep asleep and pain-free (under general anesthesia). For some heart defect repairs, the incision is made on the side of the chest, between the ribs (thoracotomy) instead of through the breastbone. Heart-lung bypass may be needed. Tubes are used to re-route the blood through a special pump that adds oxygen to the blood and keeps it warm and moving through the rest of the body while the repair is being done.
Update Date 12/10/2012
Updated by: Robert A. Cowles, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, and Stephanie Slon.