Electrophysiology & Arrhythmia Surgery

From the fetus to the adult with repaired congenital heart disease, Lurie Children’s has a long tradition of caring for patients with arrhythmias. An experienced team of electrophysiologists including Sabrina Tsao, MBBS, Kendra Ward, MD, Gregory Webster, MD, and Barbara Deal, MD, use all available therapies to treat patients with abnormal heart beats. Nina Gotteiner, MD, leads the care of fetuses with arrhythmias detected in utero, with one of the most successful programs of its kind in the country. 

Our electrophysiologists have specialized expertise in managing every type of arrhythmia with approaches including medications, catheter ablation, pacemakers, defibrillators and, if indicated, arrhythmia surgery. They have particular expertise in managing the spectrum of arrhythmias encountered, including:

  • Fetal arrhythmias, including supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and heart block. The ability to collaborate with our fetal cardiologists, adult electrophysiologists at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and the maternal fetal medicine team at Prentice Women’s Hospital ensure that care is covered and ongoing during every stage of life.
  • Arrhythmias associated with repaired congenital heart disease, including Fontan surgery, tetralogy of Fallot or Ebstein’s anomaly of the tricuspid valve.
  • SVT, including Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW), atrial tachycardia and sinus tachycardia associated with autonomic dysfunction (POTS).
  • AV (atrioventricular) conduction disorders/AV block
  • Ventricular tachycardia, often associated with repaired congenital heart disease, inherited channelopathies or cardiomyopathy
  • Heritable arrhythmias, including long QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome, CPVT (catecholaminergic polymorphicventricular tachycardia), Andersen-Tawil syndrome, and short QT syndrome.

Cardiac devices, including cardiac pacemakers, defibrillators and implantable loop monitors are utilized in conjunction with antiarrhythmic medications to manage different arrhythmias

Arrhythmia Surgery

Beginning in 1990 a unique collaborative approach between electrophysiologists and cardiac surgeons began incorporating arrhythmia procedures into operative repairs for complex forms of congenital heart disease. Since 1994 this group developed particular expertise in managing arrhythmias associated with prior Fontan procedures for single ventricle anatomy. 

With a surgical team led by Carl Backer, MD, Barbara Deal, MD, and Sabrina Tsao, MBBS, we have treated more than 150 Fontan patients from around the world with this procedure. Our mortality rate is 2%, and most patients see a dramatic improvement in quality of life after undergoing Fontan conversion with arrhythmia surgery and pacemaker implantation.

Presently, arrhythmia surgery is incorporated into other forms of CHD repairs, including tetralogy of Fallot and Ebstein anomaly. The team is also developing indications for prophylactic arrhythmia surgery during re-operations for congenital heart disease.

What to Expect

Our electrophysiologists and the cardiac team will conduct a comprehensive evaluation using sophisticated diagnostic and imaging techniques.

Consultation is available with our many subspecialists, including our Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program specialists, adult liver specialists, adult electrophysiologists at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and our cardiac surgeons.

Patients are cared for during recovery in the Regenstein Cardiac Care Unit, with a team of dedicated cardiac intensivists in hospital 24/7 in an environment of family centered care.

Education and access to care is facilitated by our advanced practice nurses with arrhythmia and cardiac device expertise.

Make an Appointment

To schedule a consultation with one of our specialists, please call 1.800.KIDS DOC (1.800.543.7362), call the Heart Center offices at 312.227.4398 or request an appointment online.

How to Use an AED 

Seconds count when a person is in cardiac arrest, and the use of an AED can be the difference between life and death. We've created an infographic to explain how AEDs work and how to use them.

View the infographic.