*Alumnus, 2005-2006: Congenital Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellow

From neonatal interventions to innovative repair techniques, Boston Children’s has been at the forefront of advances in pediatric cardiac surgery. Dr. Christopher Baird, director of the Congenital Heart Valve Program, exemplifies our commitment to re-inventing intervention.

How would you describe your approach to correcting congenital heart defects?

We now know that early interventions lead to better outcomes—and the earlier, the better. Different conditions require different approaches and considerations, but our goal is to perform the least invasive procedure possible, as early as possible, to provide the highest quality of life for the patient. I am particularly interested in the youngest set of patients with complex cardiac disease.

Since 2006, Boston Children’s has performed more than 200 catheter-based aortic valve dilations, and 75 of those were on patients less than 4 weeks old.

How have you witnessed the CV Surgery Program grow since you arrived in 2005?

What come to mind first are changes in patient volume, scope, and complexity of disease. We are receiving more complex referrals than ever before from all over the country. Every week, we have new patients from outside New England.

What innovative technique excites you the most right now?

At BCH, we emphasize repairing valves as opposed to replacing them. If we give an infant an entirely new heart valve, we will eventually need to replace it as she grows. Repairing a valve decreases the number of follow-up procedures a patient will need. Newly developed surgical techniques allow us to work with the heart’s existing anatomy and mold it to function more normally.

There are several new techniques that excite me. One involves surgically dilating a patient’s existing pulmonary valve in patients with tetralogy of fallot. This allows the valve to grow organically and appropriately with the heart, and it is ultimately sustainable for much longer than ever before. Other new techniques include those used on repairing the aortic, mitral, and tricuspid valves.

Can you give us a sneak peak of your soon-to-be-published research?

This summer, I focused my attention on understanding the outcomes in patients undergoing different valve operations in the aortic and pulmonary positions. The resulting analysis will better guide us to determine the best operation to perform on individual patients. We also had an interest in better understanding valve disease associated with patients undergoing complex biventricular repair.