Small patients - Big responsibility

Anesthetic management and maintenance of a stable circulation in patients with congenital heart defects during cardiac surgery requires unique anesthesia expertise. Accordingly, we have highly specialized nursing and medical teams at the German Heart Center Berlin for this task.

All anesthetists in our pediatric cardiac anesthesia division have extensive experience in pediatric cardiac anesthesiology, certification in ultrasound examination of the heart (echocardiography) and qualifications in allied subspecialties including intensive care medicine, emergency medicine and / or pediatric echocardiography. It is important to us that you know your child in good hands.

In the run-up to the operation, we will discuss all the details of the perioperative care with you and answer all your questions precisely and comprehensively.

We invite parents to accompany their child to the entrance of the operating room cluster on the day of the operation. However, it is not possible for you to accompany your child into the operating room or the induction room. We understand that this is a difficult and tense time for parents and relatives and this nervousness can unintentionally transfer to our little patients. We ask for your understanding that your presence during the operation cannot be supported but that we will ensure your loved one’s safety and well-being throughout.

Anesthesia practice is underpinned by an overarching concern for safety and this is our top priority here at the German Heart Centre. One of the ways we deliver safe practice is through sophisticated patient monitoring, the extent of which is determined by the severity of the underlying disease and the complexity of the planned intervention. Cardiac monitoring is a key aspect of cardiac surgery. Before the start of the operation, once your child is asleep, various vascular catheters (including a central venous catheter or CVC) are placed for blood pressure monitoring and for the administration of medication and fluids close to the heart. A urinary catheter is also mostly inserted to measure kidney function during and after surgery. In addition, we continuously monitor brain function and blood flow with highly sensitive electrodes and sensors attached to the skin. Another important component of monitoring and diagnostics, even for our smallest patients, is transesophageal echocardiography (TEE). Here, an ultrasound probe, appropriate to the size of the child, is inserted into the esophagus (food pipe). Since the heart is anatomically in very close proximity to the esophagus, this allows the anesthesiologists to generate high quality images of the heart to guide surgical and drug therapies.

Complex corrective interventions often take time. Nevertheless, it is sometimes advantageous to allow patients to emerge from anesthesia right at the end of the procedure. This process is supported by planned and sufficient pain relief which is adjusted to the needs of every child. The team at the Department of Cardiac Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine and our colleagues at the Department of Congenital Heart Surgery and Pediatric Heart Surgery have considerable experience and expertise with the fast-track principle, identifying eligible patients and formulating a bespoke plan for each patient.

Follow-up care for patients after cardiac surgery takes place in the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit of the German Heart Center Berlin, where our colleagues from the Department of Congenital Heart Disease and Pediatric Cardiology provide continuity. After a detailed handover regarding the procedure, any intraoperative events, current medications etc. your child will be looked after here until they are strong enough to be transferred to the normal floor. Extensive monitoring as well as any necessary heart support and pain therapies will continue seamlessly.

You can trust in our professionalism and care.

You can find child-friendly illustrations of the hospital stay surrounding heart surgery in the online book "Anna's Heart Surgery" (available only in German language at this point) from the Bundesverband Herzkranke Kinder e. V. It can be accessed via the following link.