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Owing to its obvious cosmetic appeal, minimal invasive repair of congenital heart defects (CHDs) through the mini right axillary thoracotomy is becoming routine in many centres. Besides cosmesis, and before becoming a new norm, it is important to establish its outcomes as safe compared to repairs through traditional median sternotomy.
Between 2013 and 2021, 116 consecutive patients underwent defect repairs through mini right axillary thoracotomy. Patient, operative data, and hospital outcomes were compared to contemporary mini right axillary thoracotomy and sternotomy series.
There was no mortality or need for approach conversion (mean age 4.3 years, range 0.17–17, mean weight 18.6 kg, range 4.8–74.4) in 118 repairs for atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, partial anomalous pulmonary venous return, partial atrioventricular canal with mitral cleft, scimitar syndrome, double-chambered right ventricle, cor triatriatum, and tricuspid valve repair. Protocol included on-table extubation, achieved in 97 children, with 23 outliers leading to 0.7 average hours of mechanical ventilation (range 0–66 hours), indwelling chest drain time of 2.6 days (range 1–9 days), intensive care stay of 1.8 days (range 1–10 days), and hospital stay of 3.9 days (range 2–18 days). Late revisions were required in one patient after scimitar repair for scimitar vein stenosis at 2 weeks, and in another for repair of superior caval vein stenosis after a Warden operation at 2 months; reoperations (5/116 = 4.3%) were successfully performed through the same mini right axillary incision.
While providing obvious cosmetic advantages, the minimally invasive right axillary thoracotomy approach for the surgical repair of common CHDs yields excellent results and is safe compared to the benchmark median sternotomy approach.
The mini right axillary thoracotomy is an alternative surgical approach to repair certain congenital heart defects. Quality-of-life metrics and clinical outcomes in children undergoing either the right axillary approach or median sternotomy were compared.
Patients undergoing either approach for the same defects between 2018 and 2020 were included. Demographic details, operative data, and outcomes were compared between both groups. An abbreviated quality of life questionnaire based on the Infant/Toddler/Child Health Questionnaires focused on the patient’s global health, physical activity, and pain/discomfort was administered to all parents/guardians within two post-operative years.
Eighty-seven infants and children underwent surgical repair (right axillary thoracotomy, n = 54; sternotomy, n = 33) during the study period. There were no mortalities in either group. The right axillary thoracotomy group experienced significantly decreased red blood cell transfusion, intubation, intensive care, and hospital durations, and earlier chest tube removal. Up to 1 month, parents’ perception of their child’s degree and frequency of post-operative pain was significantly less after the right axillary thoracotomy approach. No difference was found in the patient’s global health or physical activity limitations beyond a month between the two groups.
With the mini right axillary approach, surrogates of faster clinical recovery and hospital discharge were noted, with a significantly less perceived degree and frequency of post-operative pain initially, but without the quality of life differences at last follow-up. While providing obvious cosmetic advantages, the minimally invasive right axillary thoracotomy approach for the surgical repair of certain congenital heart lesions is a safe alternative to median sternotomy.
Surgery for CHD has been slow to develop in parts of the former Soviet Union. The impact of an 8-year surgical assistance programme between an emerging centre and a multi-disciplinary international team that comprised healthcare professionals from developed cardiac programmes is analysed and presented.
Material and methods
The international paediatric assistance programme included five main components – intermittent clinical visits to the site annually, medical education, biomedical engineering support, nurse empowerment, and team-based practice development. Data were analysed from visiting teams and local databases before and since commencement of assistance in 2007 (era A: 2000–2007; era B: 2008–2015). The following variables were compared between periods: annual case volume, operative mortality, case complexity based on Risk Adjustment for Congenital Heart Surgery (RACHS-1), and RACHS-adjusted standardised mortality ratio.
A total of 154 RACHS-classifiable operations were performed during era A, with a mean annual case volume by local surgeons of 19.3 at 95% confidence interval 14.3–24.2, with an operative mortality of 4.6% and a standardised mortality ratio of 2.1. In era B, surgical volume increased to a mean of 103.1 annual cases (95% confidence interval 69.1–137.2, p<0.0001). There was a non-significant (p=0.84) increase in operative mortality (5.7%), but a decrease in standardised mortality ratio (1.2) owing to an increase in case complexity. In era B, the proportion of local surgeon-led surgeries during visits from the international team increased from 0% (0/27) in 2008 to 98% (58/59) in the final year of analysis.
The model of assistance described in this report led to improved adjusted mortality, increased case volume, complexity, and independent operating skills.
Palivizumab is the standard immunoprophylaxis against serious disease due to respiratory syncytial virus infection. Current evidence-based prophylaxis guidelines may not address certain children with CHD within specific high-risk groups or clinical/management settings.
An international steering committee of clinicians with expertise in paediatric heart disease identified key questions concerning palivizumab administration; in collaboration with an additional international expert faculty, evidence-based recommendations were formulated using a quasi-Delphi consensus methodology.
Palivizumab prophylaxis was recommended for children with the following conditions: <2 years with unoperated haemodynamically significant CHD, who are cyanotic, who have pulmonary hypertension, or symptomatic airway abnormalities; <1 year with cardiomyopathies requiring treatment; in the 1st year of life with surgically operated CHD with haemodynamically significant residual problems or aged 1–2 years up to 6 months postoperatively; and on heart transplant waiting lists or in their 1st year after heart transplant. Unanimous consensus was not reached for use of immunoprophylaxis in children with asymptomatic CHD and other co-morbid factors such as arrhythmias, Down syndrome, or immunodeficiency, or during a nosocomial outbreak. Challenges to effective immunoprophylaxis included the following: multidisciplinary variations in identifying candidates with CHD and prophylaxis compliance; limited awareness of severe disease risks/burden; and limited knowledge of respiratory syncytial virus seasonal patterns in subtropical/tropical regions.
Evidence-based immunoprophylaxis recommendations were formulated for subgroups of children with CHD, but more data are needed to guide use in tropical/subtropical countries and in children with certain co-morbidities.
The primary extracardiac inferior cavopulmonary connection is an unusual novel palliation for single-ventricle physiology, which we first performed in the setting of unfavourable upper-body systemic venous anatomy for a standard bi-directional Glenn, and in lieu of leaving our patient with shunt-dependent physiology. After an initial 16-month satisfactory follow-up, increasing cyanosis led to the discovery of a veno-venous collateral that was coiled, but, more importantly, to impressive growth of a previously diminutive superior caval vein, which allowed us to perform completion Fontan with a good outcome. Performing the single-ventricle staging in a reverse manner, first from below with a primary inferior cavopulmonary connection, followed by Fontan completion from above with a standard superior caval vein bi-directional Glenn, is also possible when deemed necessary.
Debilitating patient-related non-cardiac co-morbidity cumulatively increases risk for congenital heart surgery. At our emerging programme, flexible surgical strategies were used in high-risk neonates and infants generally considered in-operable, in an attempt to make them surgical candidates and achieve excellent outcomes.
Materials and methods
Between April, 2010 and November, 2013, all referred neonates (142) and infants (300) (average scores: RACHS 2.8 and STAT 3.0) underwent 442 primary cardiac operations: patients with bi-ventricular lesions underwent standard (n=294) or alternative (n=19) repair/staging strategies, such as pulmonary artery banding(s), ductal stenting, right outflow patching, etc. Patients with uni-ventricular hearts followed standard (n=96) or alternative hybrid (n=34) staging. The impact of major pre-operative risk factors (37%), standard or alternative surgical strategy, prematurity (50%), gestational age, low birth weight, genetic syndromes (23%), and major non-cardiac co-morbidity requiring same admission surgery (27%) was analysed on the need for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, mortality, length of intubation, as well as ICU and hospital length of stays.
The need for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (8%) and hospital survival (94%) varied significantly between surgical strategy groups (p=0.0083 and 0.028, respectively). In high-risk patients, alternative bi- and uni-ventricular strategies minimised mortality, but were associated with prolonged intubation and ICU stay. Major pre-operative risk factors and lower weight at surgery significantly correlated with prolonged intubation, hospital length of stay, and mortality.
In our emerging programme, flexible surgical strategies were offered to 53/442 high-risk neonates and infants with complex CHDs and significant non-cardiac co-morbidity, in order to buffer risk and achieve patient survival, although at the cost of increased resource utilisation.
The superior cavopulmonary anastomosis – bi-directional Glenn – is the standard palliation for single ventricle physiology. When upper body systemic venous anatomic concerns such as superior caval vein stenosis, hypoplasia, or inadequate collateral tributaries are present, a Glenn may be precluded or have a high risk of poor outcome. A primary inferior cavopulmonary connection with an extracardiac conduit is an alternative palliation that provides a generous pathway for pulmonary blood flow, with the additional benefit of including hepatic venous return. We report a case of primary extracardiac inferior cavopulmonary connection in a patient unsuitable for Glenn, with successful post-operative outcome and early follow-up.
The tricuspid valve is being increasingly recognised as an important safeguard to the heart with congenital heart disease. Both structural anomalies of the valve and functional burdens from other malformations of the right heart can lead to major haemodynamic consequences both upstream and downstream. The indications to surgically intervene on the tricuspid valve are evolving and vary depending on the malformation. The extant surgical techniques and their applications to corresponding frequent congenital anomalies of the tricuspid valve are reviewed.
The arterial switch operation is the extant surgical correction after a long series of palliations attempted and/or successfully achieved for the treatment of discordant ventriculoarterial connections. As early as 1954, pioneers such as Mustard, Bailey, Kay, and Idriss led the way with at first disheartening failures, temporarily leading to abandoning the procedure. The first successful atrial baffle procedure in 1958 established itself as the procedure of choice for treating discordant ventriculoarterial connections, but tenacity, courage, and vision to pursue anatomic correction finally led to the first successful arterial switch in 1975 by Jatene. After a decade to perfect surgical technique and timing indications for the various anatomic subtypes, the new era of the neonatal arterial switch since the late 1980s set the very high standards that we all know and expect today. Despite excellent early and long-term survival, important residual lesions are increasingly being recognised. Expected anatomic residuals include supravalvar pulmonary stenosis, neoaortic valve insufficiency, and coronary ostial stenosis. Reinterventions and rare, but challenging surgical reoperations address these residual findings with satisfactory outcomes. Quality of life into young adulthood is satisfactory, but functional problems include reduced exercise capacity, diffuse coronary insufficiency, and neurodevelopmental shortcomings, of which the true incidence and potential clinical implications are still unknown. The arterial switch is a spectacular anatomic correction for a once lethal condition and currently the best surgical solution for patients with discordant ventriculoarterial connections. It is, however, far from a true cure; closer and ongoing follow-up for future care will continue to be required.
Paclitaxel-eluting balloons are a new and innovative method in the treatment of in-stent stenosis and small vessel disease in adult cardiac pathology. The treatment of congenital pulmonary vein stenosis is difficult to manage, and results in a high mortality rate due to residual or recurrent stenosis. We report the first case of treatment for neonatal pulmonary vein restenosis with a paclitaxel-eluting balloon.
A complication is an event or occurrence that is associated with a disease or a healthcare intervention, is a departure from the desired course of events, and may cause, or be associated with, suboptimal outcome. A complication does not necessarily represent a breech in the standard of care that constitutes medical negligence or medical malpractice. An operative or procedural complication is any complication, regardless of cause, occurring (1) within 30 days after surgery or intervention in or out of the hospital, or (2) after 30 days during the same hospitalization subsequent to the operation or intervention. Operative and procedural complications include both intraoperative/intraprocedural complications and postoperative/postprocedural complications in this time interval.
The MultiSocietal Database Committee for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease has set forth a comprehensive list of complications associated with the treatment of patients with congenital cardiac disease, related to cardiac, pulmonary, renal, haematological, infectious, neurological, gastrointestinal, and endocrinal systems, as well as those related to the management of anaesthesia and perfusion, and the transplantation of thoracic organs. The objective of this manuscript is to examine the definitions of operative morbidity as they relate specifically to the haematological system and to infectious complications. These specific definitions and terms will be used to track morbidity associated with surgical and transcatheter interventions and other forms of therapy in a common language across many separate databases.
The MultiSocietal Database Committee for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease has prepared and defined a near-exhaustive list of haematological and infectious complications. Within each subgroup, complications are presented in alphabetical order. Clinicians caring for patients with congenital cardiac disease will be able to use this list for databases, quality improvement initiatives, reporting of complications, and comparing strategies for treatment.
Right ventricular function is of great importance in patients with both acute and chronic ventricular overload. The early detection of right ventricular dysfunction may have an impact on therapeutic decision making, helping to prevent or further delay functional deterioration of the right ventricle.
In patients with right ventricular overload due to congenital cardiac diseases, dobutamine stress testing combined with magnetic resonance imaging, electrocardiographic changes, and monitoring of concentrations of plasma brain natriuretic peptide are very suitable parameters for the early detection of ventricular dysfunction, and should therefore be used in the follow-up of these patients.
It is apparent that no single measurement of anatomy or function can ever adequately describe the form or performance of the right ventricle. Rather, we should be looking more towards an integrated approach of different parameters for right ventricular function. The quantitative parameters described in this study can serve this purpose. The strong correlation found between these non-invasive and independent parameters encourages their clinical implementation.
Patients with congenitally corrected transposition are at risk of right ventricular dysfunction and failure. With this in mind, we examined 13 patients with congenitally corrected transposition, 7 not having undergone surgery, and 6 after physiological repair, comparing them with 6 healthy subjects matched for age and sex, using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, at rest and during dobutamine stress, in order to determine regional and global right ventricular response to stress.
At rest, the patients had significantly decreased overall wall motion compared to their healthy peers (7.2 ± 0.5, versus 9.8 ± 0.4 mm). During infusion of dobutamine, overall wall motion increased to 12.8 ± 0.4 mm in the healthy subjects, versus 8.8 ± 1.0 mm in patients. At the regional level, significant differences in mural motion were found between patients and controls in the anterior (9.5 ± 1.1, versus 13.2 ± 0.6 mm), posterior (10.2 ± 1.6, versus 13.2 ± 0.8 mm), and septal segments (5.0 ± 0.8, versus 11.2 ± 0.6 mm).
At rest, overall mural thickening in patients was similar to that of controls, but significantly less in patients during stress. During dobutamine stress, patients showed significantly less regional wall thickening than controls, particularly in the septal (2.7 ± 0.6, versus 6.0 ± 0.4 mm, respectively) and in the anterior segments (4.2 ± 0.6, versus 7.8 ± 0.6 mm, respectively). Right ventricular ejection fraction strongly correlated with mural motion and thickening, both at rest and during stress.
Abnormal regional function in the systemic morphologically right ventricle may occur in patients with congenitally corrected transposition, which strongly correlates with right ventricular ejection fraction. Our findings support the hypothesis that, in patients with congenitally corrected transposition, ischemia of the right ventricular myocardium contributes to the development of right ventricular dysfunction.
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