Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

Offering Specialized Care for Children Battling Heart Disease

Nearly half of all children who need pediatric intensive care have heart disease. For the best outcomes, pediatric specialists are called upon to provide appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic services. At Kentucky Children’s Hospital, critically ill patients dealing with heart disease receive expert care in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU).

The Need for Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care

Every year, approximately 40,000 babies are born with congenital heart disease (CHD). Of them, 25% have critical CHD, which requires surgery within the first year of life. Still others acquire heart disease, often due to infection.

Without appropriate care, any type of pediatric heart disease can lead to complications, up to and including death. In the Pediatric CICU, pediatric cardiologists manage the spectrum of children’s heart conditions and work to heal small hearts.

Common conditions cared for in Pediatric CICU include the following:

  • Aortic stenosis — A narrowed aortic valve. Reduces blood flow from the heart to the body and causes shortness of breath, fatigue and abnormal heart rhythm.
  • Endocarditis — Infection of the heart’s inner lining. May cause rash, fatigue, recurrent fever and shortness of breath.
  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome — Lack of circulation due to the heart’s left side being underdeveloped. Leads to severe illness, extreme weakness and, if untreated, death.
  • Myocarditis — Heart inflammation that is the result of a viral, bacterial, fungal or chemical infection. Symptoms include abnormal heart rhythm, paleness, slow growth and fatigue.
  • Ventricular septal defect — A hole between the left and right ventricles allowing blood to pass between the ventricles. Can cause breathing problems, poor weight gain and other unwanted symptoms.

Inside the Pediatric CICU

Consisting of four beds, the CICU is next door to the hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). There, young patients manage cardiac illness and prepare for or recover from cardiac surgery at the hands of Kentucky Children’s Hospital experts.

Inside the CICU, cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons, cardiologists, CICU providers and a pediatric electrophysiologist work hand in hand to provide individualized, boutique care for each young patient. Thanks to this multidisciplinary approach, even the smallest, most fragile patients typically return home within a few days.

Before Reaching the CICU

At Kentucky Children’s Hospital, cardiac care doesn’t begin in the CICU. It starts with an accurate diagnosis. Thanks to advanced cardiac imaging technologies, pediatric heart disease is quickly and accurately diagnosed, even during pregnancy. This leads to targeted treatment that offers the best chance at cure.

Once young patients reach the CICU, the pediatric CICU team gets to work, helping young hearts grow strong and educating parents on post-discharge care. Should a cardiac issue require lifelong care, children seamlessly transition to the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute as adults.

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