Pediatric hypoplastic left heart syndrome care in Denver

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is a congenital abnormality which can involve several abnormalities of the heart and great blood vessels. Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children (RMHC) in Denver has a unique multispecialty team made up of congenital heart pediatric specialists and a comprehensive Center for Maternal/Fetal Health, as well as the latest technology to identify and treat this condition.

The specialists at our facility are equipped with expertise in congenital heart conditions and maternal-fetal health, as well as the medical equipment, to identity this condition and provide appropriate treatments.

To find a RMHC maternal-fetal care specialist, please call (720) 754-7642.

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome occurs in about two to three in 10,000 live births. Babies with hypoplastic left heart syndrome experience undeveloped parts of the heart in the first eight weeks of pregnancy.

The abnormalities vary from baby to baby, but one of the most critical abnormalities is the underdevelopment of the left ventricle. The left ventricle of the heart plays a major role in pumping blood throughout the body.

If a baby has hypoplastic left heart syndrome, prompt intervention after birth is essential to save his or her life.

Diagnosing hypoplastic left heart syndrome

Your doctor may be able to diagnose hypoplastic left heart syndrome during the second trimester of pregnancy in a routine fetal ultrasound. After birth, your doctor may suspect your baby has a heart abnormality of his or her skin is a greyish-blue color, or if the doctor hears a heart murmur.

To confirm the condition, we will perform an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart), which produces live, moving images of your baby’s heart. In this imaging test, we will be able to see the size of your baby’s left ventricle and the flow of the blood.

If your baby has been diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome during pregnancy, it is important to deliver at a hospital with an experienced pediatric cardiology team, such as RMHC.

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome treatment

Depending on the immediate challenges your baby is facing with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, your RMHC doctor may recommend medication, breathing assistance, a feeding tube or IV fluids to help your baby get the oxygen and nutrients he or she needs.

Surgical intervention is necessary, and our pediatric cardiac surgeons typically complete surgical treatment in three procedures. The first heart surgery is performed within the first couple weeks after birth and adds a shunt (tube) to connect the right ventricle of the heart with the pulmonary arteries. This procedure allows the right ventricle to provide blood to both lungs.

The second procedure is usually performed when your baby is between three and six months old. This procedure removes the shunt and connects one of the main heart’s arteries to the pulmonary arteries, which reduces the amount of work the left ventricle has to do.

The final heart surgery is performed when your child is between one-and-a-half and four years old. In this procedure, the heart surgeon creates a channel for blood to flow directly to the pulmonary arteries.

Long-term outlook for hypoplastic left heart syndrome

Your child will require life-long follow-up care with a cardiologist, which he or she can receive at RMHC from childhood through adulthood. We offer an adult congenital heart disease program in which we provide care, guidance, family planning assistance and support for hypoplastic left heart syndrome patients as they get older.