Children who have surgery for congenital heart disease (CHD) at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, or who have a life-threatening illness related to heart disease, will be cared for by experts in Cardiac Critical Care Medicine. In our Heart Center’s Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU), your child will receive round-the-clock attention from a team of specialists who focus on providing coordinated care for pediatric heart patients during times when they are critically ill.

The Best in Care for Your Child

Our specially trained cardiac critical care physicians care for a high number of patients with complex and rare congenital and acquired heart issues each year, meaning they have a unique level of expertise in this field.

If your child is diagnosed with a heart condition before birth, we will develop a personalized delivery plan with you and a treatment strategy for after your baby arrives. Our Inpatient Heart Center, caring for newborns to adolescents, takes a collaborative team approach to care. 

  • Our cardiac critical care doctors are on-site 24/7 to monitor your child and provide parents with up-to-date information.
  • A dedicated team of fellows, nurses, advanced practice providers and respiratory therapists see patients through the preoperative process through recovery onto discharge home.
  • Child life program specialists help children cope with their feelings about their illness and prepare them for treatment.

As a top-ranking children’s hospital in the nation, our cardiac critical care program offers patients and families direct access to pediatric specialists across every specialty that your child may need. This experience helps us provide the best care for our patients.

If you are seeking a second opinion, St. Louis Children’s Hospital is also a highly respected referral center for the region and the nation. Our Heart Center is one of the highest volume centers in the country for providing mechanical circulatory support, with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and ventricular assist devices, for patients with life-threatening heart disease. If your child needs a heart, lung or heart-lung transplant, St. Louis Children’s Hospital is one of the largest and most active pediatric transplant centers in the United States. 

A Special Place for Heart Patients and Their Families

From intensive care for critical patients to transitional care to prepare them for going home, we adapt our care for each patient’s individual needs, always with the goal of improving quality of life.

While your child is an inpatient at the Heart Center, they will receive round-the-clock attention from a team of specialists who focus on providing compassionate, coordinated care. Your child will have a private room with windows that let in natural light. We encourage parents to stay with their loved one when possible. Throughout the Heart Center, you will find dedicated areas for refreshment, consultation and comfort while your child is treated. 

At St. Louis Children’s Hospital, we focus on compassionate, family-centered care through a multi-disciplinary, team approach. During daily bedside rounds, we meet with parents (in person or virtually) to talk about their child’s treatment and progress and listen and answer questions. As part of our family-centered care approach, we also provide resources and services to support parents and families as they face the many challenges of heart disease, including a nurse liaison and a parent support network. 

When you and your child are ready to go home, your specialized care team will provide ongoing support and follow-up care. As patients transition to adulthood, we offer seamless care at the Center for Adults with Congenital Heart Disease

Our Services

Treating complex heart problems for newborns through adolescence is our specialty, and we are constantly innovating new treatments. We offer access to the latest advancements in critical heart treatment, including: 

  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) acts as an artificial heart and lung, allowing your child’s heart and lungs to rest and recover. 
  • Advanced cardiac support program provides advanced expertise and therapies for children and families facing the challenge of heart disease and heart failure.
  • T3 monitoring uses the latest clinical decision-support software for the intensive care environment  specifically designed for critically ill cardiac children as an early warning system of the likelihood a patient will experience a harmful physiologic state
  • Advanced monitoring systems track your child’s vital signs, cardiac output and more, which is crucial to the best heart care.

Learn about the T3 monitoring technology that is helping babies and children who are born with a heart defect. 

If your child needs a heart transplant, we are also a world-renowned center for heart, lung and heart-lung transplants for infants, children and youth.

Honoring the Milestones of the Heart Journey

As you and your child cope with a critical heart illness, we invite you to join other families and their children to participate in our Beads of Courage program at the St. Louis Children’s Heart Center, sponsored by Eden’s Army, a local non-profit organization. Through this national program, we pay tribute to the human experience and challenges you and your child face. Beads are given to recognize courage and other milestones, serving to help alleviate suffering, strengthen resilience and affirm human caring.  

Meet the Experts

From top-ranked doctors to skilled fetal imaging specialists to our expert nurse coordinator, the Heart Center team is here for you. Meet the team.