An incision may be made through the breastbone (sternum) and between the lungs (mediastinum) while the child is deep asleep and pain-free (under general anesthesia). For some heart defect repairs, the incision is made on the side of the chest, between the ribs (thoracotomy) instead of through the breastbone. Heart lung bypass is used to support the child during the procedure. Tubes are used to re-route the blood through a special pump that adds oxygen to the blood and keeps it warm and moving through the rest of the body while the repair is being done.
Review Date 8/2/2017
Updated by: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.