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Diagnosis & Treatment

To ensure accurate diagnoses, we offer the full range of tests including:

  • Non-invasive imaging
  • Diagnostic catheterization
  • Testing for arrhythmias (heart rhythm abnormalities)

Congenital Heart Disease & Acquired Heart Disease

There are essentially two types of heart disease in children, congenital and acquired.

Congenital heart disease is a heart defect or structural problem that is present at birth. Congenital defects can range from holes between chambers of the heart to the absence of one or more heart chambers or valves. Types of congenital heart defects we treat include:

  • Patent ductus arteriosis (PDA)
  • Atrial septal defect (ASD)
  • Ventricular septal defect (VSD)
  • Atrioventricular (AV) canal defect
  • Valvular defects – The valves control the heart’s blood flow and can have the following types
    of defects:
    • Stenosis (thickening or narrowing) which prevents the valve from fully opening (pulmonary valve stenosis is the most common valve defect)
    • Atresia which occurs when a valve doesn’t form correctly and lacks a hole for blood to pass through
    • Regurgitation which occurs when a valve doesn’t close completely so blood leaks back through the valve
  • Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Arrhythmias
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Coronary artery fistulas (CAF)
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Cyanotic Ventricle or “Blue Heart”

Acquired heart disease is a condition that develops sometime during childhood. Types of acquired heart disease include:


Treatment of congenital heart disease is based on the severity of the condition. Some mild heart defects require no treatment at all. Others can be treated with medications, minimally invasive procedures or surgery – all of which are available at The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital.

Complex congenital conditions often require open-heart surgery to repair the defect, and we offer all the latest procedures and devices used to surgically treat children with congenital heart disease except for cardiac transplantation. In fact, ours is the only pediatric cardiac surgery program north of Boston, led by Maine’s only Board certified, fellowship-trained pediatric cardiac surgeon.

Today, interventional cardiologists can repair many congenital heart defects without surgically opening the chest by using a procedure called cardiac catheterization. This procedure is less invasive and allows for faster recovery time than traditional open-heart surgery. As home to the only pediatric catheterization lab in the state, BBCH sees a sizeable volume of patients and performs a range of procedures – a depth of experience that translates into high-quality care and consistently excellent patient outcomes.

For children who require a heart transplant, BBCH has forged a partnership with Children’s Hospital Boston. Through this integrated program, patients can be comprehensively assessed by cardiac experts here in Maine, travel to Boston for the transplant surgery, and then come back for comprehensive follow-up care. It’s a seamless system with exceptional continuity of care – and convenience – for patients and their families who live in Maine.

Community Support

To make BBCH's expertise in the treatment of congenital heart defects more accessible and convenient, our cardiac specialists also conduct outreach clinics at community hospitals throughout southern, central and western Maine and in eastern New Hampshire.

Franklin Health Pediatrics
131 Franklin Health Commons
Farmington, Maine 04938
Phone (207) 778-0482

Saco River Medical Group
7 Greenwood Avenue
Conway, New Hampshire 03818
Phone (603) 447-3500, Ext. 12

Precious Hearts Support Group for Parents of Children with Congenital Heart Defects
c/o Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital
Pam Schlichting, BSN, RN
22 Bramhall Street
Portland, ME 04102
Phone (207) 662-2273