Medical and Nonsurgical Care for Adults with Congenital Heart Disease

Medical and nonsurgical treatment for congenital heart disease varies because there are several types of congenital heart defects. Treatments range from carefully prescribed medications to procedures performed in specially-equipped catheterization labs. Below are some highlights of our nonsurgical services to treat congenital heart disease and its related problems:

Innovative Devices to Treat Heart Defects

Amplatzer Duct Occluder device This special device is an Amplatzer Duct Occluder, a tiny mesh tool that aids in the closure of patent ductus arteriosus, a type of congenital heart defect. Devices like this enable our physicians to treat some heart defects without the need for surgery.

At the University of Chicago, our congenital heart disease specialists are pioneers in the use of innovative devices to close holes in the heart without the need for surgery. These small devices are placed using catheters that are inserted into the artery or vein in the groin. Many patients with atrial septal defect, patent ductus arteriosus, patent foramen ovale, or ventricular septal defect have been successfully treated with these devices. These special nonsurgical procedures offer many advantages, including:

  • Short procedure time. Patients can sometimes leave the hospital the same day.
  • No visible scarring.
  • Little to no pain.
  • Little to no blood loss.
  • Quick recovery, with patients frequently able to resume normal activities the next day.

Nonsurgical Repair of Thickened Heart Valves

Thin tubes (catheters) can often be used to relieve obstructions caused by thickened heart valves, commonly seen in patients with aortic or pulmonary valve stenosis. A small balloon is attached to the tip of the catheter and is then inflated to open the valve opening.

Advanced Treatments for Arrhythmias

Some congenital heart problems can cause heart rhythm disorders. Our team of adult and pediatric electrophysiologists offer the full range of diagnostic and treatment options for arrhythmias, including radiofrequency ablation and implantation of pacemakers and defibrillators.

Balloon Angioplasty & Stent Placement

Patients with narrowed arteries or blood vessels can often benefit from balloon angioplasty or stent placement to improve blood flow. Balloon angioplasty involves the use of thin tubes (catheters) that are inserted into a blocked or narrowed artery. The catheter has a tiny balloon on its tip that is inflated to widen the artery. Stents are tiny steel mesh tubes that are sometimes placed in blood vessels to help keep them open.

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