GUCH Center

For Adults with Congenital Heart Disease

Certification

Our certificate as a national GUCH Center

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Contact the GUCH Center

Tel +49 30 4593-2820

National Certified GUCH Center

Congenital heart defects are among the most common congenital diseases. The spectrum of heart defects ranges from simple defects, which do not much affect the circulatory system, to very severe heart disease, which is life-threatening. Today corrective surgery can be performed for almost all cardiac and vascular malformations.

Thanks to medical progress, these days over 90 percent of children born with a heart defect live to become adults. These GUCH patients (grown-ups with congenital heart disease) require specialized treatment all their lives and ideally this is provided by supraregional GUCH centers. Since July 2011 the Department of Congenital Heart Disease – Pediatric Cardiology has been certified as a GUCH center for the treatment of adults with congenital heart disease. In 2007 medical guidelines for the treatment of GUCH were published and in the meantime a specific professional qualification in GUCH treatment has been introduced.

Together with our cooperation partner Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and medical specialists from a variety of disciplines, such as orthopedic medicine, neurology and oncology, we can provide interdisciplinary treatment for our patients. We are supported by specially trained psychologists and social workers and by patient organizations. This means that our GUCH center can carry out all the examinations and procedures required by GUCH patients, under a single roof.

Services by the GUCH Center

Inpatient Treatment

At present we are treating 200 to 300 GUCH patients as inpatients each year; they undergo surgery or a heart catheter examination. Altogether the German Heart Center Berlin has operated on almost 2000 GUCH patients in the past 22 years.

The GUCH center has a specialized intensive care unit with 12 beds for patients requiring mechanical ventilation and further beds on Wards H4 and H2. In addition, the center works in close cooperation with our Outpatient Department for Congenital Heart Disease..

Outpatient Treatment

GUCH outpatients are treated in the Outpatient Department for Congenital Heart Disease – Pediatric Cardiology.
This Department is specialized in the treatment of adult patients with congenital heart disease. The proportion of adult patients in ambulatory care is over 50 percent.

Hybrid Operations

Since the beginning of 2008 the German Heart Center Berlin has been equipped with two so-called hybrid operation rooms. Each has a heart-lung machine and a modern heart catheter lab so that surgical and catheterization techniques can be combined.

In the hybrid operation rooms we can perform many different procedures on GUCH patients, who have often been operated on several times already, frequently in minimally invasive technique. The advantage is that these procedures are shorter and less complex and therefore reduce the risk of the operation and the burden for the patient.

Heart Catheter Procedures

The GUCH Center has three state-of-the-art heart catheter laboratories. Here complex diagnostic and interventional heart catheter procedures can be carried out. Performing over 700 heart catheterizations each year, half of them including interventions, our team, headed by Dr. Stephan Schubert, is very experienced.

In the treatment of GUCH patients we use the latest innovative heart catheter procedures. For example, we offer transcatheter replacement of the pulmonary valve and have already treated over 200 patients in this manner. The advantage of this method: a further operation can be avoided. In addition, the procedural risk is lessened and patients can be discharged home four or five days later.

Cardiac Computed Tomography

In GUCH patients, exact knowledge of the anatomy, particularly of scarring, is extremely important. In some cases cardiac CT is preferred – despite the radiation exposure – to other methods because it produces more detailed images. The GUCH Center has a CT machine of the latest generation that enables ultrafast imaging through two CT tubes.
Interference-free images of the beating heart can be obtained regardless of the heart rate and show tiny details such as narrowing of the coronary arteries. This technique enables heart catheter examinations to be avoided.

Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an imaging procedure for the diagnosis of congenital heart defects. The GUCH center has two modern MRI machines. Unlike heart catheterization and CT, MRI causes no exposure to X-rays.
As many GUCH patients need a large number of examinations in the course of their lives, the combined X-ray dose can be reduced using MRI. Cardiac MRI is an excellent instrument for judging the development of a patient: the optimal time point for a necessary surgical or hear catheter procedure can be exactly planned using this method.

Pacemaker Treatment

We offer the whole range of pacemaker treatment for GUCH patients and have great expertise in this area. Moreover, we are one of the first centers in Germany to implant GUCH patients with pacemakers that are MRI compatible.

Beside the implantation and monitoring of conventional single and dual-chamber pacemakers we also specialize in treatment with implantable defibrillators (AICD) and triple-chamber pacemakers. We also have many years of experience in removing or exchanging defective pacemaker leads.

For patients with particular pacemaker models home monitoring is possible, which means that the device can be checked via telephone connection. Fewer visits to the hospital are then necessary.

Electrophysiology

The GUCH center also offers electrophysiological treatment. In the electrophysiological heart catheterization laboratory, which is equipped with the most modern technical devices, GUCH patients with heart rhythm disturbances receive diagnostic procedures and treatment.

Pulmonary Hypertension

The treatment of elevated lung pressure (pulmonary hypertension) is a specialism of our GUCH center. In particular, patients with Eisenmenger syndrome, which is a severe and rare disease, need highly specialized treatment.
We aim to increase the quality of life and the physical condition of these patients, using all the pharmacological preparations approved for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension. Treatment is closely coordinated with our Outpatient Department for Transplantation, since some of the patients will need heart and lung transplantation.

We Are Here to Serve You!

Our Team

The following doctors at our Department hold additional qualifications for treating GUCH patients:

  • Prof. Dr. med. Felix Berger, Director, Department of Congenital Heart Disease – Pediatric Cardiology
  • Dr. Björn Peters, Deputy Departmental Director
  • Dr. med. Friederike Danne, Senior Cardiologist, Outpatient Department for Congenital Heart Disease
  • PD Dr. med. Stephan Schubert, Senior Cardiologist and Head, Heart Catheterization Laboratory
  • Dr. med. Stefan Dirks, Pediatric Cardiologist
  • Dr. Oliver Miera, Senior Cardiologist, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
  • PD Dr. Stanislav Ovroutski, Senior Cardiologist, Patient Management
  • PD Dr. Katharina Schmitt, Senior Cardiologist, Ward H4
  • Dr. Agnese Strenge, Pediatric Cardiologist
  • Dr. med. Mustafa Yigitbasi, Pediatric Cardiologist

Rehabilitation

Following a heart surgery procedure, an intervention or severe disease, rehabilitation treatment is an important part of the care of GUCH patients. The patients profit from “integrated rehabilitation”, which means that they are referred directly after their hospital stay to a rehabilitation center. This treatment, the cost of which is covered by the statutory health insurers, helps to avoid or correct the consequences of the disease. In particular for chronically ill patients the maxim applies that the sooner detrimental effects are treated, the greater the chances are that they can be reversed.

One rehabilitation center for GUCH patients is the Brandenburgklinik to the north of Berlin, which cooperates closely with our Department. An experienced doctor from the German Heart Center Berlin is present at this institution. The center offers physiotherapy, occupational therapy, neuropsychological therapy, speech and language therapy, psychotherapy and pain management.