Blue baby operation
Rich Ringel, M.D.
The Helen B. Taussig Congenital Heart Center at Johns Hopkins, a world leader in advancing pediatric cardiology care, continues to serve the needs of children from the mid-Atlantic region, around the country, and overseas. Now, with an outpatient clinic, non-invasive imaging, fetal echo, heart transplant and other services and faculty offices housed together on the second floor of the new Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children's Center, all services offered by the Center are under one roof. That means more collaboration and consultation in diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions. Advances in technology are present, too. Imaging features include an upgraded echocardiography suite with top-line equipment, enhancing diagnostics and collaboration with referring and treating physicians. Also, the new pediatric cardiac catheterization lab provides three-dimensional, high-definition images to ensure accuracy and improve results for patients.
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Considered the birthplace of modern pediatric cardiology, with milestones like development in 1944 of the first open-heart surgery to correct congenital heart defects in infants – known as the “blue baby operation” – the Helen B. Taussig Congenital Heart Center offers services unmatched by any hospital in the region.
Care for patients with congenital heart disease is provided by our clinical faculty and staff, including 13 board certified pediatric cardiologists who see more than 6,000 outpatient visits each year, and two pediatric cardiac surgeons who operate on more than 300 infants, children and adults with congenital heart disease each year. We provide services in the following areas:
- Congenital Heart Disease in Children
- Congenital Heart Disease in Adults
- Cardiac Surgery
- Cardiac Transplantation Evaluation
- Complex Heart Rhythm Problems
- Fetal Cardiology
- General Pediatric Cardiology
- Genetic Cardiology
- Interventional Cardiac Catheterization
A New Era in Treating Pediatric Heart Disorders
As part of achievements like the first open-heart surgery to correct congenital heart defects in infants – the famous “blue baby operation” in 1944 – pediatric cardiology at Johns Hopkins has a very rich history. In fact, many in the field consider Johns Hopkins the birthplace of modern pediatric cardiology. Now known as The Helen B. Taussig Congenital Heart Center at Johns Hopkins, the division is still making milestones, but in some new and novel ways. During a recent interview in his 5th floor office in the original Children’s Center, Division Chief Joel Brenner described an “enormous transition” for pediatric cardiology from the world of physiology and anatomy to the world of molecular genetics, especially in the area of congenital heart disease.
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Attacking Aortic Coarctation
As far as pediatric cardiologist Richard Ringel is concerned, aortic coarctation, a narrowing of the major artery that carries blood out of the heart, is an enemy not easy to defeat. Many newborns with the problem show symptoms in the first few weeks of life, spurring surgical repair to restore normal blood flow to the aorta and vessels throughout the body. Most of these patients quickly get better but in about 15 percent of cases the narrowing returns, typically during growth spurts in the middle or high-school years. But in such cases, Ringel notes, many surgeons are not anxious to operate a second time.
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