Pediatric Heart Surgery Outcomes

Our Patient Survival Rates Are Among the Highest in the U.S.

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The Duke Pediatric Heart Center is one of the nation's best for newborns and children with congenital heart defects. Our patient survival rates are among the highest in the U.S., a notable achievement considering our pediatric heart surgeons perform more than 350 heart operations every year on very sick patients who require advanced, complex care. Our team's skill, expertise, and commitment to high-quality patient care ensure our patients grow and develop into healthy, productive adults.

A gold badge shows Duke has been nationally ranked in 10 pediatric specialties for 2023 to 2024
#2 in Nation and #1 in NC for Pediatric Cardiology and Heart Surgery

Duke Children’s is ranked the #2 pediatric cardiology program in the nation and the best in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report.

Why Choose Duke

Duke's pediatric heart patient outcomes are among the best in the country.

Duke pediatric heart surgeons pioneered new techniques for some of the most challenging heart surgeries being performed on tiny babies today. These operations reduce risk and are better tolerated.

Duke pediatric surgeons perform significantly more very complicated procedures than many other centers nationally. 

We encourage you to compare Duke Pediatric Heart Center's volume and outcomes data with other institutions.

Understanding Procedure Volume and Outcomes Data

If your child needs heart surgery, it is important to evaluate how many times their required procedure is performed at a hospital (this is referred to as "volume") and to compare statistics on patient outcomes achieved by the hospital's program with other programs' statistics.

  • Volume data is important because studies show that patients experience better outcomes at hospitals where surgeons perform more procedures. This is because doctors have more experience with these procedures and are more adept at choosing the right patient for the right procedure.
  • Outcomes data shows whether the procedure was successful, how well a patient recovered, and if they have a positive quality of life. This is highly individualized to the type of procedure and the complexity associated with the patient's condition.

Having a basic understanding of volume and outcomes data can help you make an informed decision about where to go for your child's care. We've made that easier for you by providing the publicly reported data and internal data that we collect. 

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The Society of Thoracic Surgeons Public Database

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure patients receive the highest quality care. The organization maintains several public databases and reports. The report on congenital heart defect procedures is titled Congenital Heart Surgery Public Reporting.

Data for this report includes more than 600,000 congenital heart procedures and is collected from hospitals with congenital heart programs in the U.S. and Canada. The procedures are categorized in categories called "STATs" from 1 to 5 by the difficulty, or complexity, of the procedure. 

The simplest procedures to perform are categorized as STAT 1. The most difficult procedures are STAT 5.

The chart below shows the number of heart surgeries by STAT level performed at Duke from 2018 through 2021. It includes total procedures as well as procedures for newborns (0 to 31 days old). Select the buttons to toggle between data for all patients and newborns only.

Duke pediatric heart surgeons perform significantly more STAT 4 and 5 procedures than many other centers nationally. Studies show that hospital surgical teams with more experience are likely to have better patient outcomes.

Heart Procedures by STAT Category 2019-2023
Select the patient group:
Source: STS Database, Table 16, July 2019 - June 2023 (All = newborns + infants + adults)

Congenital Heart Defect Procedure Survival Rates

Survival rates indicate the percentage of pediatric patients who underwent a congenital heart defect (CHD) operation and survived their hospitalization and survived for at least 30 days following their operation. The national average is based on data from the Society for Thoracic Surgeons and can be used to compare each hospital program's outcomes for procedures in each STAT category.

A higher number indicates better survival than the national average.

Duke's program is one of the nation's few performing above expected when compared to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons' national average.

Our pediatric patients consistently do better following complicated procedures than the national average.

Survival Rate by STAT Category, Duke vs US (%)
Sources: STS Database, Table 16, July 2019 - June 2023

Duke CHD Procedure Survival Rates

Duke CHD Survival Rates Compared to National Average (%)
Sources: STS Database, Table 18, July 2019 - June 2023

Duke Pediatric Heart Transplant Survival Rates

Statistics about pediatric heart transplants are collected by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) and the Organ Procurement Transplantation Network. You can view each hospital's data for pediatric and adult patients, including time on transplant waitlists, the number of transplants performed, and patient survival in the years following their transplant. View Duke University Hospital's heart transplant data

The SRTR also provides national averages against which hospitals can measure their transplant outcomes.

Pediatric Heart Transplantation Survival at 3 Years*,
Duke vs U.S.
*With functioning deceased donor graft
Source: SRTR Jan 2024, Table C14D

Shorter Wait Times at Duke Compared with Other U.S. Centers

Patients on Duke’s waitlist receive a heart faster than the national average. 

Median Days to Transplant, Duke vs Region vs U.S.
Source: SRTR Jan 2024, Table B10. Region includes Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
This page was medically reviewed on 02/10/2022 by