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Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

The Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit provides highly specialized, round-the-clock care for newborns, babies and children who are critically ill with a heart condition. As one of the few pediatric intensive care units in the nation dedicated to heart conditions, we offer a level of care not available at many other children's hospitals. This focus and expertise leads to better outcomes for our young patients.

Our team includes many types of specialists, including pediatric cardiologists, intensive care doctors, heart surgeons, anesthesiologists, intensive care nurses and respiratory therapists. Together we care for patients with a wide range of complex heart problems, as well as for those who are recovering from heart surgery or a catheter-based procedure.

Experts at UCSF have also been pivotal in developing new treatments for pediatric heart disease, such as radiofrequency ablation for irregular heart rhythms, catheter-based procedures, and a heart-lung support machine called a rapid-deployment extracorporeal assist device. Our specialists are also focused on the future, as they work to advance the understanding and treatment of heart disease in children.

Many of our patients arrive by ambulance or air transport from throughout the Western U.S. For information on transport options, refer to the Pediatric Transport Service for our Oakland and San Francisco locations.

The Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit is part of the Neonatal Cardiovascular Center of Excellence, which cares for premature and critically ill infants with congenital heart defects with the aim of supporting their long-term cardiovascular health and neurological development.

Our locations (2)

    Highlights of our heart care

    A whole-child approach

    We believe in caring for the whole child. This means addressing all of your child's medical needs while also nurturing their emotional, developmental and social well-being.

    Built for kids

    We're part of a children's hospital, and pediatric heart care is our only focus – we don't treat adults. All our doctors and nurses are specially trained in caring for babies and children, and our facilities and equipment were designed with their needs in mind.

    Extra support for patients

    Child life specialists are experts in helping kids cope with medical procedures and hospitalization. Using play, education and therapeutic techniques tailored to the child's age and needs, they make the health care experience more positive for the whole family.

    Extra support for families

    Our Family Resource Center provides information, amenities and comfort to parents and other caregivers, making it easier for you to remain with your child during a hospitalization.

    Our team

    Awards & recognition

    • Ranked among the nation's best in 10 specialties

    • Top 10 in the nation for neonatology

    • Best in Northern California for cardiology & heart surgery

    Our research initiatives

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    Support services

    Child Life Services

    Activity rooms, pet therapy and more to help kids feel at home.


    Gentle Hands Program

    We help parents of medically fragile infants bond with their babies via special techniques for soothing, holding and bathing their child. Learn more.

    Family Amenities

    Family-friendly amenities help you relax and take care of yourself while staying close to your child. We offer lounges, kitchens, showers, breastfeeding rooms and more.


    Social Services

    Social workers ease the effect of illness, injury and hospitalization on your family with counseling and assistance to help you navigate the challenges.


    Parent Support Program

    Weekly activities, including knitting, scrapbooking, chair massage and more, help family caregivers get a much-needed break. Find out more.


    Spiritual Care

    Chaplains help UCSF patients, families and staff cope with the spiritual and emotional challenges of childhood illness. Learn more.


    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.


    Individual Playtime & Instruction

    If your child can't be around other kids for medical reasons, you can sign up for private sessions in our activity and school rooms. Find out how.


    Music Therapy Program

    Board-certified music therapists help kids cope with illness and the feelings that come with it. Find out about group activities and bedside therapy.

    Family Resource Center

    We help families cope with the challenges of childhood illness and hospitalization in a relaxing environment where parents can get a much-needed break.


    Patient Relations

    Patient relations reps and nursing supervisors are here to answer questions and address concerns. Learn about your rights, how to reach us and more.


    International Services

    If you're coming to UCSF from outside the U.S., we coordinate your child's appointments and provide other helpful services. Here's how to get started.

    Fetal surgery firsts

    The first open fetal surgery in the world was performed at UCSF in the early 1980s.