At Cincinnati Children’s, we know the decision for you or your child to have heart surgery is a big one. A second opinion can help ensure that you are getting the best options for a healthier future.

We give many second opinions every year, offering you the opportunity to hear more than one expert’s opinion. Below are the most common questions we receive related to second opinions before heart surgery.

What is the benefit of getting a second opinion?

Second opinions give you the chance to have another set of highly trained eyes review your or your child’s records and offer thoughts on how to proceed. Even if our recommendation is the same as the referring doctor, it can help give you more confidence in moving forward.

What is the process for getting a second opinion?

Typically a patient is referred to our Heart Surgery team by another Cincinnati Children’s service or by an outside cardiologist or hospital, or is chosen by family for a second opinion.

If an outside cardiologist has referred you, the referring cardiologist or the family requesting the second opinion is responsible for sending the related medical records to us.

If the patient has not been seen by an outside cardiologist, you will first be seen by one of our cardiologists here. We will review test results and imaging from a referring physician, or will schedule appropriate test or imaging appointments with you so we can view the heart defect prior to scheduling your appointment with our cardiologist. Types of imaging and test results often needed include the following:

  • Echocardiogram
  • CT scan
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Cardiac MRI
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
  • Chest X-ray

We may order additional tests as needed.

After we have a medical history and appropriate test results and imaging, the case is reviewed at our Joint Heart Program Case Management Conference. The Joint Heart Program is a collaboration between Cincinnati Children’s and Kentucky Children’s Hospital. The conference is attended by all of the heart surgeons, cardiologists and specialists from both organizations. This allows each case to be discussed with specialists in all different areas, so they can recommend the best care plan for you or your child.

After the conference, one of our cardiologists will reach out to inform you or the referring cardiologist of the results of our discussion and to talk about options.

Will insurance cover my second opinion?

Insurance coverage varies for every case. It’s important to talk to your insurance provider before your appointment to see what your coverage is for second opinions so you know what to expect. Sometimes insurance does not cover repeat testing.

Before your appointment, the Heart Surgery scheduling team will have the insurance company give a prior authorization for your visit and will check your insurance benefits. If there are any gaps in insurance coverage, we will provide you with that information ahead of time. If needed, you may ask for financial assistance at this time.

Do I need to bring anything with me to the appointment?

We will work with you to make sure we gather all medical records, scans and test results before you arrive.

For patients over 18, bring a photo ID and insurance card.

For parents or guardians of minors, please bring your insurance card. Your child receiving the second opinion will need to come to the appointment as well.

How do I start the process for getting a second opinion?

You can start the second opinion process in any of the following ways:

  • Ask your doctor for a referral – Your cardiologist can initiate a referral to the Cincinnati Children’s Heart Institute to start the second opinion process.
  • Call our cardiothoracic surgery coordinators – You can contact one of our heart surgery coordinators by calling 513-315-0634.
  • Fill out our online form – You can fill out our online second opinion form. One of our surgery coordinators will follow up with you within two business days.