The Center of Excellence of Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) was established on the base of structural units treating CHD in Vilnius University Hospital Santaros klinikos on August 5, 2015. It is the only center for the diagnosis, treatment, training and research of CHD in Lithuania and the largest specialized center in the Baltic States region with many years of experience.
The very first surgery in an open heart with cardiopulmonary bypass in Lithuania - a repair of ventricular septal defect was successfully performed in Vilnius on October 14, 1964.
Currently, the center provides a wide range of outpatient and inpatient services, treats Lithuanian and foreign patients, performs about 200 surgical and invasive corrections of CHD. The center provides consultations of cardiac surgeons, pediatric and adult cardiologists, geneticists, obstetricians-gynecologists, neonatologists and other specialists.
The center uses the most advanced diagnostic and treatment technologies: laboratory, radiological, instrumental, molecular diagnostics, medical and surgical treatment, psychological and social assistance to patients.
The Center of Excellence for CHD consists of outpatient and inpatient services for children and adults with CHD (in the Centers of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, Cardiology and Angiology) and support services.
About 250 children are born in Lithuania with CHD every year. Most defects are surgically corrected in infancy and older children. About one-tenth of newborns with CHD need life-saving urgent intervention. The center performs complex surgeries, invasive procedures and intensive care. Over 8,000 open surgeries for CHD were performed at the center since 1964. Heart transplantations are performed in children since 2001. Due to advances in cardiac surgery, anesthesiology neonatology and pediatric cardiology the most patients (including those with complex defects) survive to adulthood.
There are about 4,500 - 5,500 adults with CHD in Lithuania and their number is increasing by ~ 5% per year. Even after timely and proper correction of CHD, these patients require ongoing consistent specialized care for residual lesions and potential complications, pre-conception counseling and management during pregnancy and delivery. From 2006 an adult CHD subunit provides CHD care in close collaboration with multidisciplinary teams and other specialized centers: Pulmonary Hypertension center since 2010, Pregnancy Heart Team since 2013, cardiogenetics, young stroke and other teams. According to the recommendations on the organization of optimally structured CHD surgery centers by the Committee for Congenital Heart Defects of the European Society of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery all types of CHD surgeries must be performed at the CHD surgery center: correction of newborn critical defects, complex defects in children and adults, heart transplantation. Vilnius CHD center met these structural and work requirements which helped to win Norwegian support grant for the renovation and the improvement of the quality of work in 2005.
The center has set up a monitoring system to collect data on newly diagnosed cases, track the course of the disease and assess the effectiveness of treatment. There are> 3,500 children and ~ 2,000 adults in the patient monitoring system of CHD of Center of Excellence.
The center performs clinical, biochemical, microbiological, immunological and genetic tests, applies advanced diseases detection methods, and radiological diagnostics. The Center of Excellence for CHD is a member of the European Reference Network in Paediatric Transplantation (TransplantChild) and an affiliated member of GUARD- HEART (Gateway to Uncommon And Rare Disease of the HEART). More information:
The doctors of the center regularly participate in international conferences, where they update their knowledge and present the results of research conducted at the center. The members of center actively participates in the activities of the Lithuanian Society of Pediatric Cardiologists, Cardiologists, Chest and Cardiac Surgeons, organizes scientific-practical conferences for students, residents, doctors and patients. Member of the center participates in international research projects of EU countries and cooperates with clinics and centers of foreign countries.
The staff of the Center of Excellence trains students of Vilnius University, resident doctors and other specialists. There are specialized lectures for pediatric cardiology and cardiology residents doctors, training courses are organized for cardiologists, pediatric cardiologists and doctors of other specialties.
The center cooperates with patients' associations: Support and Charity Fund “Mažoji širdelė”, Child Heart Association (“Vaiko širdies asociacija), Society of Adult Patients with CHD.