US News Best of Children's Hospitals - Heart Center at CHKDU.S. News & World Report has ranked the Virginia Congenital Cardiac Collaborative, CHKD’s partnership with University of Virginia Children’s hospital, one of the best cardiology and heart surgery programs in the country. The publication’s 2022-23 “Best Children’s Hospitals” guide ranked the collaborative No. 20 among the top 50 pediatric cardiology and heart surgery programs in the country.

The Team Approach to Care

The pediatric cardiologists at CHKD offer expert, family-centered care for patients with congenital and acquired heart problems through the hospital's multidisciplinary Heart Center.

Our goal at the Heart Center is to provide the best possible care for every patient – from the prenatal period to adulthood – through close collaboration with specialists in cardiac surgery, diagnostic imaging, obstetrics, neonatal intensive care, and pediatric intensive care. Our certified physician's assistant, pediatric nurse practitioner, referring physicians, and your family members are also essential members of our care teams.

CHKD is Virginia's only freestanding full-service children's hospital. Every inch of our facility and all members of our medical team are devoted exclusively to the needs of young people, and our patients benefit from the full range of pediatric specialists and support services available only at freestanding children's hospitals.

Conditions We Treat

We care for children with a variety of heart conditions, including:

Our Services

The Heart Center offers a complete range of diagnostic, interventional and electrophysiology services. Please expect to be with us from one to two hours for your appointment. 

Imaging and Diagnostics

CHKD's cardiac imaging program provides a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and plays a crucial role in treatment as well.

We perform approximately 7,000 echocardiograms each year, including transthoracic, transesophageal, and prenatal echo studies in our fully accredited lab. We also offer exercise testing, Holter and event monitoring, nuclear cardiology testing, and prenatal cardiac evaluation.  

All services are available at the main hospital in Norfolk; selected services are also available at CHKD Health Centers throughout the region. Read more.

Cardiac Catheterization

This procedure gives cardiologists a close look at the heart for advanced diagnostics, but can also be used to correct many problems that once required open-heart surgery. CHKD had the first dedicated pediatric cardiac catheterization lab in the state and was the first facility in the state to implant ASD, VSD, and PDA devices, as well as Melody valves.

In 2014, the hospital purchased a state-of-the-art cath lab that reduces the amount of radiation used by 50 percent. Of the 250 cardiac catheterizations performed annually at CHKD, approximately 40 percent involve treatments such as stent placements, balloon angioplasty, and valvuloplasty and septal closures. To date, we have implanted 39 Melody valves. Nearly 100 percent of our Melody valve patients were discharged within 24 hours.

The CHKD cardiac cath lab is committed to quality and best practice. All diagnostic and interventional catheterization procedures are submitted to the National Cardiovascular Disease Registry IMPACT database to participate in evidence-based practice guidelines for improvement of patient outcomes. We use procedural checklists recommended by the Society of Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions and hold multidisciplinary team conferences prior to every procedure.

Prenatal Diagnosis and Assessment

When obstetricians suspect that a baby's heart is not developing normally, they refer expectant mothers to CHKD, home to the region's only lab accredited in fetal echocardiography.

At CHKD, a special prenatal team (a pediatric cardiologist, pediatric sonographers, and a social worker) can determine a diagnosis and work closely with the family and referring physicians to create prenatal and postnatal management plans.   

Many of the mothers we help are patients of the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department at EVMS, the region's referral center for high-risk pregnancies. Deliveries usually take place at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, which operates a perinatal intensive care unit for high-risk patients and complicated births. CHKD's neonatal intensive care unit is connected to this area of Norfolk General by an interior hallway, allowing expedited access to CHKD and also allowing our neonatologists to attend births and begin care in the delivery room.

Cardiac Arrhythmia Program

The pumping action of the heart is regulated by an electrical system. Problems with this system can cause an abnormal rhythm of the heart, called an arrhythmia. The heart may beat too quickly, too slowly, or in an irregular manner. Arrhythmias can simply be normal variations in heartbeat or indications of a more serious problem. Treatments vary depending upon the kind of arrhythmia and its cause. 

Arrhythmias can be detected through EKGs and or Holter monitoring. Electrophysiology techniques may be used to further investigate or treat arrhythmias. CHKD's EP lab technology includes conventional and high-powered radio frequency ablation as well as cryo ablation for the treatment of arrhythmia. Three-dimensional mapping allows for accurate localization, along with very limited, and some cases zero, radiation exposure for our patients. 

CHKD's electrophysiologist performed 40 catheter ablations in 2014 with a 97.5 percent acute success rate.    

Cardiac Anesthesia

At CHKD, three board-certified cardiac anesthesiologists, specially trained in caring for critically ill cardiac patients, provide excellent care for patients undergoing cardiovascular surgery with and without cardiopulmonary bypass. They also collaborate with our interventional cardiologists and electrophysiologist to provide services to patients who require diagnostic and interventional procedures in the cardiac cath lab.

Cardiac anesthesia services are available for all complex cardiac patients undergoing a wide variety of procedures including general surgery, dental procedures, endoscopy, as well as sedation for CT or MRI imaging studies.

Adult Congenital Program

Adult cardiologists and cardiac surgeons primarily treat normal hearts that have become diseased over time while pediatric cardiologists and cardiac surgeons specialize in hearts with congenital (which means present at birth) malformations. So when children with heart defects get older, they often still need care from pediatric cardiologists.   

At CHKD, two adult congenital cardiologists work with sonographers, primary care physicians and adult cardiologists from around the region to create distinct plans for adult congenital patients. Patients are closely followed in the diagnostic laboratories and cardiac cath lab and can also undergo cardiac surgery at CHKD.    

Pulmonary Hypertension Program

Pulmonary hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure in the lungs. This serious condition can disrupt the normal flow of blood to lungs, depriving organs and tissues of essential oxygen. CHKD's pediatric pulmonary hypertension program follows the standards of care set forth by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association.

We provide complete diagnostic workups and treatment to include any oral or inhaled medications appropriate for the patient. We work with pulmonary hypertension referral centers to assist in especially complex cases or management of patients requiring continuous IV or subcutaneous medications, and continue to provide local support for our patients and families.

Insurance and Referral Information

This depends on what kind of insurance you have.

 If you have an HMO, you must: 

  • Get a referral from your child's primary care physician before you call to make an appointment.
  • Make sure that your referral has not expired. Many are good for only 30 days, so check yours before you come to your appointment. If your referral has expired, call your primary care physician and explain your situation. In most cases, your primary care physician will provide a new or extended referral.
  • Bring the referral with you to the appointment. If you do not have a referral, or if the referral you have is expired, your HMO will not pay for your appointment.

If you have fee-for-service insurance or a PPO, you do not need a physician's referral to make an appointment.

    We offer in-depth information about insurance in our billing and insurance section.