Treatments and Services

Hybrid Heart Procedures

Heart (cardiac) surgeons and heart doctors (cardiologists) at Seattle Children's work together on hybrid procedures for babies with complex heart problems. This approach combines surgery and cardiac catheterization. Hybrid procedures can be life saving for babies who are too sick to go through open-heart surgery or too small for typical treatments using catheters.

What happens during hybrid procedures?

The cardiac surgeon makes cuts (incisions) to provide access to your baby's heart or a major blood vessel, like their aorta. Then the surgeon and cardiologist work together to perform other steps your baby needs. These may include putting in a device to close a hole in the heart, placing a stent to improve flow through a blood vessel or other steps.

What services do you offer?

If a hybrid procedure may be right for your baby's heart condition, your team at Seattle Children's will create a treatment plan that matches your baby's exact needs. Your baby's procedure and the other services they receive will depend on many factors. These include your baby's overall health, their size, how their heart and the rest of their body are affected and which other treatments the doctors expect your baby to need in the future.

Here are some of the hybrid procedures Seattle Children's Heart Center offers.

For hypoplastic left heart syndrome

  • What's done: The team creates a better blood-flow pattern through your baby's heart to their lungs and body. The doctors widen the opening between the right and left atria. They place a stent in the ductus arteriosus to keep it open, and they place bands around the left pulmonary artery and right pulmonary artery to limit blood flow there.
  • Why it's done: To delay more complex surgery until your baby is older and larger, when their health is more stable and the risks of the surgery may be lower. The hybrid procedure can also be a bridge to a heart transplant for babies who need a new heart.

For coarctation of the aorta

  • What's done: The team places a stent in your baby's aorta to hold open the part of the aorta that's too narrow.
  • Why it's done: To give your baby a stent that can expand over time as your child grows into an adult. Cardiologists cannot place this type of stent in small babies using cardiac catheterization alone. The stent is too large to thread through the baby's small blood vessels. With a hybrid procedure, doctors can get the stent into your baby's aorta.

For ventricular septal defect

  • What's done: The team puts a a small plastic tube (catheter) through the wall of the heart to place a device that closes the hole between your baby's right and left ventricle.
  • Why it's done: To avoid having to open your baby's heart and use stitches or a patch to close the hole. Cardiologists cannot place the closure device in small babies using cardiac catheterization alone. The device is too large to thread through the baby's small blood vessels to their heart. With a hybrid procedure, doctors can get the device in place.

For tetralogy of Fallot

  • What's done: The team replaces the pulmonary valve between the right ventricle and pulmonary artery. Babies with tetralogy of Fallot have their narrow pulmonary valve opened with surgery early in life. Many do not have other problems with this valve, but some need the valve replaced later.
  • Why it's done: To avoid having to open your baby's heart to replace the valve. During a hybrid procedure, doctors can place a Melody transcatheter heart valve in children who are too small to have the valve placed using cardiac catheterization alone.

What's special about the experience at Seattle Children's?

Seattle Children's is a leader in hybrid heart procedures for children, in both the number and types of procedures we perform.

Hybrid procedures require a very high level of teamwork between the cardiac surgeon and cardiologist. These two types of doctors blend their training, expertise, techniques and technologies to design and carry out treatments that neither could do on their own. Working together this closely is a hallmark of the care we provide throughout Seattle Children's.

Our doctors have been using hybrid methods for more than a decade. They have published research and are asked to speak at national scientific meetings about our approach and results. Many breakthroughs in the field are based, in part, on early work done here.

Who's on the team?

These doctors from the Heart Center work together on hybrid procedures.