By Tom Ulrich
Our pediatric heart surgeons are used to pushing the envelope. Last month we reported on a new kind of heart valve for children with mitral valve defects that can expand as they grow. Now the same team reports 10 years of experience trying to rebuild a lost half of the heart for children born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), a devastating, life-threatening defect.
The new strategy, called staged left ventricle recruitment (SLVR), seeks to harness a child's native capacity for growth and healing to encourage the undersized left ventricle to grow, giving the child a fully functional heart.
Q: What is HLHS?
A: It's a condition where the left side of the heart doesn't develop properly while a child is in the womb, and is too small and weak at birth. That makes it hard for the left ventricle – which is responsible for pumping freshly oxygenated blood out to the rest of the body – to function properly.
Q: How is HLHS currently treated?