As the largest pediatric cardiac program in the Southeast and one of the top five largest pediatric heart centers in the nation, the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Heart Center provides advanced, innovative care to infants, children and teens with a variety of heart conditions.
Children’s Heart Center is the only pediatric cardiac program in Georgia that cares for all complex congenital heart defects (CHDs) from birth to adulthood. We are ranked in the top five in the nation for our Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) and Cardiac Acute Care Unit (CACU) volumes, and among the top 10 in the nation for pediatric heart surgeries, heart transplants and catheterization procedure volumes.
Our researchers are seeking innovative ways to improve the lives of children born with CHDs to help prevent and treat the effects on children and teens as they grow and develop. We work closely with neighboring academic partners, including Emory University School of Medicine and the Georgia Institute of Technology, to advance pediatric heart research. These research partnerships, combined with our experience treating CHDs in children of all ages, have allowed us to become a national leader in heart disease research.
The Pediatric Technology Center is a joint initiative between our Heart Center, Emory University and Georgia Tech. It is world-renowned for furthering our understanding of cardiovascular fluid dynamics, the optimization of cardiovascular surgeries, surgical planning, device development and tissue engineering.
Here, biomedical engineers collaborate with practicing clinicians, physician scientists, biomedical imaging scientists and basic cardiovascular biologists, using experimental and computational approaches. Technologies and methods currently being investigated and developed at the Pediatric Technology Center include:
- Pediatric medical and surgical devices
- Nanomedicine and molecular imaging approaches
- Bioinformatics tools using machine learning techniques
- Biomaterials for cardiac repair
- Computational methods for studying disease development and cures
- 3D printing for surgical planning and stem cell therapy
- Stem cell therapy, including two active trials for children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome
Cardiovascular Imaging Research Core (CIRC)
The Cardiovascular Imaging Research Core (CIRC) lab was established in 2011 to conduct cardiac imaging research studies and incorporate novel and nontraditional imaging techniques into clinical practice. CIRC provides noninvasive cardiac imaging support for investigators engaged in clinical research involving fetuses, neonates, infants, children and adolescents, and it is one of only a few labs in the country with the infrastructure to provide support for pediatric cardiac imaging research.
Our dedicated team of physicians, scientists, sonographers and research coordinators is experienced in using cardiac imaging modalities and techniques not typically seen in the clinical setting. Research services offered by CIRC include:
- Imaging protocol development
- Clinical site training and quality monitoring
- Image analysis
- Image transmission
- Data management
- Research quality imaging
- Cardiac MRI logistical and analysis support
Emory Adult Congenital Heart Program
Since greater than 90% of children born with congenital heart defects now survive to adulthood, the Children’s Heart Center partners with the Emory Adult Congenital Heart program to provide lifelong care. For those patients born with congenital heart disease, including those who had CHD repaired as a child, specialized monitoring and care will always be part of their lives. The Emory Adult Congenital Heart Center team has the experience and expertise needed to provide lifelong care for patients with CHD.
As the only adult congenital heart program in Georgia and one of the country’s largest programs, the adult congenital program is able to identify any problems related to CHD and provide the most effective treatment and management options. The multidisciplinary team includes adult and pediatric cardiologists, congenital cardiac surgeons, electrophysiologists, interventional cardiologists, nurses, social workers, and imaging and echocardiogram specialists. To improve transition of care to adulthood, the program has a nurse navigator who provides transition liaison services.
The adult congenital heart program has developed a network of collaborative partners across various specialties within the Emory Healthcare system and beyond. These professionals have clinical interest and expertise in treating or managing care for people with CHDs.
The adult congenital heart center draws from this diverse network to give patients the best, most appropriate care as efficiently and conveniently as possible. This extended team includes genetics counseling, orthopedic surgery, obstetrics care and other specialized care and services to coordinate the best care and follow-up plans for our patients.
Neonatal/Preemie Transcatheter PDA Closure Program
Children’s is among a select group of pediatric hospitals across the country that has begun performing patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) closures in premature infants smaller than 1 kg via cardiac catheterization rather than open-chest surgery.
Our multidisciplinary program leverages expertise from neonatology, cardiology and interventional cardiology at Children’s to provide nonsurgical options for premature babies who are adversely affected by a persistent PDA. Patients are referred to us from NICUs throughout the state of Georgia.
We have a dedicated team of personnel to expedite referrals, facilitate procedure planning and transfer patients back to the referring NICU. We are the only cardiac program in Georgia providing this less-invasive, catheter-based therapy, as well as other innovative treatments and newer implantable devices in very low birthweight babies.
There is a multidisciplinary team spanning nurses, respiratory therapists, anesthesiologists and cath lab staff dedicated to ensuring procedural efficacy and safety for this medically fragile population. Their hospitalization may be shortened after definitive PDA therapy, allowing these babies to be discharged sooner, potentially with improved lung function.
Children’s has a renowned cardiac catheterization lab with one of the top 10 largest procedure volumes in the country. Referral centers and patient families can feel assured knowing patients are receiving specialized pediatric care from a hospital that is highly ranked nationwide in both neonatology and cardiology.
Our ACT Program provides innovative and compassionate cardiac care for children and families affected by advanced heart failure and cardiomyopathy. Our comprehensive services include medical treatment of end-stage heart disease, heart transplantation, and ventricular assist device implantation and management. Our advanced heart failure and cardiomyopathy patients are seen in the ACT Clinics, except for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy patients, who are seen in the Arrhythmia Clinic.
Children’s is home to one of the top 10 largest pediatric heart transplant programs in the country, performing more than 400 pediatric heart transplants to date.
Children’s Heart Center provides investigators across the country with advanced pediatric cardiovascular imaging services and research support. We perform more than 40,000 echocardiography procedures every year, providing extensive opportunities for learning and research. Our Heart Center has been granted a three-year reaccreditation with the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) in all three areas of practice:
- Transthoracic echocardiography
- Fetal echocardiography
- Transesophageal echocardiography
We have a dedicated MRI suite in the Heart Center adjacent to the cath lab that performs more than 700 cardiac MRI examinations per year on children and young adults. A collaborative cardiac CT program led by both cardiology and radiology performs more than 400 studies per year. Both CT and MRI are accredited through the American College of Radiology.
Our team is also using novel approaches to improve surgical planning. In collaboration with Georgia Tech, our cardiothoracic surgeons are now able to use imaging and 3D printing to create an accurate model of the heart prior to surgery. This 3D replica enables surgeons to better plan an operation based on the unique features of a patient’s heart.
Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Program
Our Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Program offers complete developmental care, from infancy to childhood, for children with heart conditions that require cardiac surgery. Colleagues in cardiology, neuropsychology and rehabilitation collaborate to complete comprehensive neurodevelopmental evaluations and to facilitate access to resources in local communities and schools.
Our program also participates in multisite and local research to support improved outcomes after heart surgery, including the Single Ventricle Reconstruction Trials and the Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Outcome Collaborative registry, among others.
Fetal Cardiology Program
Our Fetal Cardiology Program is the largest in the Southeast and collaborates with obstetric and perinatal care providers to offer diagnostic and clinical management, social support and genetic counseling services to expectant mothers carrying babies with significant structural and functional fetal cardiac abnormalities, including congenital heart lesions, fetal cardiac arrhythmias, twin-twin transfusion syndrome, fetal tumors and other causes of fetal heart failure.
Our program also offers advanced programs such as early gestation fetal cardiac imaging and fetal tele-echocardiography. Through these programs, our patients have broad access to fetal diagnosis and management and can receive a fetal cardiac diagnosis as early as 13-14 weeks.
Preventive Cardiology Program
Our Preventive Cardiology Program provides a complete range of services for patients with conditions that place them at risk for early heart attack and stroke, which focus on reducing their chances of developing cardiovascular disease as they age. We treat conditions like hypertension, dyslipidemia and hypercholesterolemia.
We also treat patients with a family history of early atherosclerosis by creating specific care plans tailored to our patients’ individual needs and lifestyles. Our team also partners with other Children’s specialty programs, including nephrology, endocrinology, hepatology and the Children’s Strong4Life Program, to provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary care to patients.
The Children’s Heart Center started Project S.A.V.E. (Sudden cardiac arrest, Awareness, Vision for prevention and Education) in 2004 with the mission of preventing sudden cardiac arrest in children, teens and young adults in Georgia communities. Through Project S.A.V.E., we aim to educate and train people to feel equipped to handle a sudden cardiac arrest event.
We provide resources for CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) training and teach others what to do in the event of life-threatening emergencies and non-life-threatening emergencies.
Any school or youth-servicing organization in Georgia can become a HeartSafe Community by requesting a consultation from our staff and completing a checklist demonstrating successful implementation of our program. The HeartSafe School effort has saved 133 lives since the program’s inception.
Pulmonary Artery Reconstruction Program
One of only two such programs in the country and the only one on the East Coast, our Pulmonary Artery Reconstruction Program uses a multidisciplinary approach to diagnose, treat and monitor complex pulmonary artery disease by developing protocols, pathways, surgical strategies and transcatheter (hybrid) pulmonary artery treatments for our patients. Our team includes dedicated cardiothoracic surgeons, specialized interventional cardiologists, cardiac anesthesiologists, specially trained cardiac intensivists, outpatient cardiologists, pulmonologists, otolaryngologist, general pediatric surgeons and basic scientists.
Since the program’s inception, we have seen excellent results in caring for the most complex patients with major aortopulmonary collateral arteries, Williams syndrome and isolated pulmonary artery of ductal origin.
Pulmonary Hypertension Program
Our Pulmonary Hypertension Program takes a multi-specialty approach to care that allows patients to be evaluated and treated simultaneously for hemodynamic and intrinsic pulmonary problems that may contribute to disease burden. The team provides inpatient care with 24-hour coverage, as well as outpatient care.
Pulmonary Vein Stenosis (PVS) Program
Our Pulmonary Vein Stenosis (PVS) Program is made up of a multidisciplinary team of providers who treat the most severe cases of PVS utilizing a variety of transcatheter and surgical procedures and novel medical therapies. We also collaborate with the Pulmonary Vein Stenosis Network, an international group run by The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, to advance PVS research and clinical care. With more than 150 children treated in our program, Children’s has one of the largest populations of patients with PVS in the country and is currently following more than 50 active patients.
Single Ventricle Program
Our Single Ventricle Program cares for children with the most complex congenital heart defects. Each child’s needs are addressed by a multidisciplinary team experienced in all aspects of single ventricle care, including surgical recovery, with a focus on the challenges of growth and development. Neonatal surgery is performed by expert surgeons, and postoperative care is provided by a team of skilled intensive care physicians, clinical nurses and respiratory therapists.
Our team also focuses on the high-risk interstage period and works closely with patient families to set up a home monitoring plan, enabling them to track their baby’s weight, oxygen levels and fluid intake. Our Single Ventricle Program is part of the National Pediatric Cardiology Quality Improvement Collaborative, whose mission is to improve the care and outcomes of infants with hypoplastic left heart syndrome from prenatal diagnosis through Fontan palliation.
If you have a patient who needs pediatric cardiology care, you can reach the Children’s cardiology team by calling 404.256.2593.
Dr. Rusty Rodriguez
Dr. Rodriguez is a pediatric cardiologist with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Cardiology and an adult congenital cardiologist with Emory’s Adult Congenital Heart Center. He is originally from New Orleans. He cares for congenital heart issues from birth to geriatrics. He is also an associate professor of medicine at Emory University. He is board certified in internal medicine, pediatrics, pediatric cardiology and adult congenital heart disease with the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Niell Videlefsky
Dr. Videlefsky is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Cardiology. His areas of expertise include complex congenital heart disease and fetal medicine, including fetal echocardiography, counseling and pre- and post-natal medical management. He worked with medical mission teams establishing a Pediatric Cardiology Intensive Care and Cardiothoracic Unit in Tbilisi, Georgia, as well as a training and medical mission trip to Ethiopia and Rwanda.