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High venous pressures and associated hepatic congestion are important drivers for Fontan-associated liver disease. The prognostic significance of hepatomegaly as a marker of congestion however is not well defined and is further explored in this research study.
Fontan patients who have had liver ultrasound scans were identified from the Prince Sultan Cardiac Centre Fontan Database and had their anatomic, surgical, clinical histories abstracted from the electronic medical records following institutional ethics approval. Liver volumes were determined retrospectively from reviewing individual US images, and these, divided into tertiles, were analysed in the context of the predefined endpoints of (i) Primary – death or heart or liver transplantation, or (ii) Secondary – combined endpoint of death, transplantation, arrhythmia, or protein-losing enteropathy.
Mean indexed liver volumes for the entire cohort (n = 199) were 1065.1 ± 312.1 ml/m2, range 387 to 2071 ml/m2. Patients with the largest liver volumes (highest tertile) were less likely to have a functioning fenestration compared to those in the lowest tertile 44% versus 56% p = 0.016 and experienced the highest burden of mortality and heart or heart–liver transplantation, p = 0.016, and were more likely to reach the composite endpoint of death, protein-losing enteropathy, arrhythmia, or transplantation, p = 0.010. Liver volumes had an overall predictive accuracy for the combined outcome of 61% (CI 53%, 67%, p = 0.009).
Liver volumetry may serve as a potentially important congestion biomarker for adverse outcomes after the Fontan operation.
Fontan palliation represents one of the most remarkable surgical advances in the management of individuals born with functionally univentricular physiology. The operation secures adult survival for all but a few with unfavourable anatomy and/or physiology. Inherent to the physiology is passive transpulmonary blood flow, which produces a vulnerability to adequate filling of the systemic ventricle at rest and during exertion. Similarly, the upstream effects of passive flow in the lungs are venous congestion and venous hypertension, especially marked during physical activity. The pulmonary vascular bed has emerged as a defining character on the stage of Fontan circulatory behaviour and clinical outcomes. Its pharmacologic regulation and anatomic rehabilitation therefore seem important strategic therapeutic targets. This review seeks to delineate the important aspects of pulmonary artery development and maturation in functionally univentricular physiology patients, pulmonary artery biology, pulmonary vascular reserve with exercise, and pulmonary artery morphologic and pharmacologic rehabilitation.
Patients with single-ventricle CHD undergo a series of palliative surgeries that culminate in the Fontan procedure. While the Fontan procedure allows most patients to survive to adulthood, the Fontan circulation can eventually lead to multiple cardiac complications and multi-organ dysfunction. Care for adolescents and adults with a Fontan circulation has begun to transition from a primarily cardiac-focused model to care models, which are designed to monitor multiple organ systems, and using clues from this screening, identify patients who are at risk for adverse outcomes. The complexity of care required for these patients led our centre to develop a multidisciplinary Fontan Management Programme with the primary goals of earlier detection and treatment of complications through the development of a cohesive network of diverse medical subspecialists with Fontan expertise.
Systemic venous hypertension and low cardiac output are believed to be important mediators of liver injury after the Fontan procedure. Pulmonary vasodilators have the potential to improve such haemodynamics. The aim of this study was to assess the acute effects of exercise on liver stiffness and venous pressures and to assess the impact of inhaled Treprostinil on this response.
In this prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial, 14 patients with a Fontan circulation were randomised to inhalation of placebo and Treprostinil. Incremental and constant work rate exercise tests were performed to assess the effect of Treprostinil on exercise tolerance. Venous pressures were measured throughout and liver stiffness at rest and immediately after peak exercise.
Mean age was 27.8 ± 7.9 years and 66% were females. Exercise acutely increased liver stiffness by 30% (mean shear wave speed: 2.38 ± 0.71 versus 2.89 ± 0.51 ms, p = 0.02). Peripheral venous pressures increased acutely during both incremental (12.1 ± 2.4 versus 22.6 ± 8.0 mmHg, p < 0.001) and constant work rate exercise (12.5 ± 2.5 versus 23.4 ± 5.2 mmHg, p < 0.001). Overall, Treprostinil failed to attenuate exercise-induced increases in liver stiffness. Compared with placebo, Treprostinil did not significantly impact venous pressure responses, VO2peak, nor exercise endurance times.
Peripheral venous pressure increased acutely during exercise by an average of 88% above baseline and was not altered by administration of inhaled Treprostinil. Liver stiffness measured immediately post-exercise increased acutely by an average of 30%, with no attenuation following Treprostinil inhalation.
COVD-19 pandemic has overwhelmed many healthcare systems worldwide. Underlying cardiovascular disease predisposes to greater disease susceptibility and more complications including mortality. Such data is unverified in adults with congenital heart disease (ACHD). The aim of the study is to report the Tehran experience with respect to preventative self-care measures, disease exposure, susceptibility, and outcomes after COVD-19 infection in ACHD patients.
A telephone-based survey was conducted in ACHD patients, focusing on new-onset symptoms that might indicate COVID-19 infection, prevention measures, confirmed infection rates, and outcomes.
Three-hundred and nine ACHD patients, with a mean age of 29.13 years (range from 14 to 72 years, SD = 10.64), and 170 (55%) women were assessed. The majority (86.7%) had moderate or complex ACHD. Two-thirds (67.3%) of the patients practiced high-level preventative self-care measures. After community exposure, 33.3% developed COVID-19, and after household exposure, 43.7% developed COVID-19. There was only one mortality in a post-operative patient. Thirty-seven patients (12%) reported new symptoms including cough (10%), fatigue (8%), fever (7%), and new dyspnoea (6.5%). Amongst 18 (6%) with confirmed COVID-19, there was only 1 mortality in a post-operative patient. Age (adjusted OR = 1.19, 95% CI: 1.07–1.31, p = 0.001), contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases (adjusted OR = 59.34, 95% CI: 3.68–955.10, p = 0.004) were independently associated with COVID-19 infection.
Mortality risk associated with COVID-19 infection in ACHD patients with moderate or severe disease appears to be relatively low, similar to the general population. Such risk appears to act through conventional risk factors, and in this cohort, we demonstrated age as a significant risk factor in addition to exposure to the development of COVID-19 infection. Preventative self-care measures are a potentially significant and impactful intervention target for intervention and for improving outcomes.
Lymphopenia is common in adults who have had a Fontan operation although its aetiology and clinical implications remain unknown. Previous work suggests an association between lymphopenia and both liver disease and splenomegaly. The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence of lymphopenia in adults with a Fontan circulation and evaluate its associations with risk factors and clinical outcomes. Using a retrospective cohort study design, we studied 73 adult Fontan patients (age 25.0 ± 8.4 years) who had a complete blood count and abdominal imaging performed. Patients with protein-losing enteropathy were excluded. Clinical data were extracted from hospital records. The mean white blood cell count was 6580 ± 220/ml with a mean lymphocyte count of 1223 ± 508/ml. Lymphopenia, defined as lymphocyte count <1000/ml, was present in 23 (32%) patients. Patients with lymphopenia had a lower total white blood cell count (5556 ± 2517 versus 7136 ± 1924/ml, p = 0.009) and a lower platelet count (162 ± 69 versus 208 ± 69 k/ml, p = 0.008). Lymphopenia was also associated with findings of portal hypertension, including splenomegaly (36 versus 14%, p = 0.04), varices (22 versus 6%, p = 0.04), and ascites (39 versus 14%, p = 0.02). Lymphopenia did not correlate with any cardiac imaging, haemodynamic or exercise testing variables. In conclusion, lymphopenia is common in adult Fontan patients and is associated with markers of portal hypertension. Larger studies are needed to better define the relationship between lymphopenia and clinical outcomes.
Subspecialisation is increasingly a fundamental part of the contemporary practice of medicine. However, little is known about how medical trainees learn in the modern era, and particularly in growing and relatively new subspecialties, such as adult CHD. The purpose of this study was to assess institutional-led and self-directed learning strategies of adult CHD fellows.
This international, cross-sectional online survey was conducted by the International Society for Adult Congenital Heart Disease and consisted primarily of categorical questions and Likert rating scales. All current or recent (i.e., those within 2 years of training) fellows who reported training in adult CHD (within adult/paediatric cardiology training or within subspecialty fellowships) were eligible.
A total of 75 fellows participated in the survey: mean age: 34 ± 5; 35 (47%) female. Most adult CHD subspecialty fellows considered case-based teaching (58%) as “very helpful”, while topic-based teaching was considered “helpful” (67%); p = 0.003 (favouring case-based). When facing a non-urgent clinical dilemma, fellows reported that they were more likely to search for information online (58%) than consult a faculty member (29%) or textbook (3%). Many (69%) fellows use their smartphones at least once daily to search for information during regular clinical work.
Fellows receiving adult CHD training reported a preference for case-based learning and frequent use of online material and smartphones. These findings may be incorporated into the design and enhancement of fellowships and development of online training resources.
We describe the case of a young man aged 19 years with a double inlet left ventricle associated with transposition of the great arteries, and a mechanical aortic valve requiring anticoagulation, who presented with massive haemoptysis. At cardiac catheterisation, there were multiple feeder vessels to a bleeding leash surrounding and communicating with his left main bronchus. Despite occlusion of the larger feeder vessels, he continued to have massive haemoptysis. We describe a novel surgical strategy of denuding the peribronchial vessels through a left lateral thoracotomy. This successfully stopped his bleeding.
Objective: To define the anatomic characteristics of the congenitally malformed and severely stenotic aortic valve using trans-thoracic real time three-dimensional echocardiography, and to compare and contrast this with the valvar morphology as seen at surgery. Design: Prospective cross-sectional observational study Setting: Tertiary centre for paediatric cardiology Methods: All patients requiring aortic valvotomy between December 2003 and July 2004 were evaluated prior to surgery with three-dimensional echocardiography. Full volume loop images were acquired using the Phillips Sonos 7500 system. A single observer analysed the images using “Q lab 4.1” software. The details were then compared with operative findings. Results: We identified 8 consecutive patients, with a median age of 16 weeks, ranging from 1 day to 11 years, with median weight of 7.22 kilograms, ranging from 2.78 to 22 kilograms. The measured diameter of the valvar orifice, and the number of leaflets identified, corresponded closely with surgical assessment. The sites of fusion of the leaflets were correctly identified by the echocardiographic imaging in all cases. Fusion between the right and non-coronary leaflets was identified in half the patients. Dysplasia was observed in 3 patients, with 1 patient having nodules and 2 shown to have excrescences. At surgery, nodules were excised, and excrescences were trimmed. The dysplastic changes correlated well with operative findings, though statistically not significant. Conclusion: We recommend trans-thoracic real time three-dimensional echocardiography for the assessment of the congenitally malformed aortic valve, particularly to identify sites of fusion between leaflets and to measure the orificial diameter. The definition of nodularity, and the prognosis of nodules based on the mode of intervention, will need a comparative study of patients submitted to balloon dilation as well as those undergoing surgical valvotomy
The purpose of our study was to determine the ways in which adolescents with congenital cardiac disease believed that the condition had affected their life, and how these views were related to their perceived health. Interviews were conducted with a series of 37 adolescents, 17 girls and 20 boys, aged from 11 to 18, as they attended the clinics of 4 paediatric cardiologists in a teaching hospital in the United Kingdom. Transcripts of the interviews were analysed for recurring themes. A questionnaire was formed consisting of a set of questions for each theme, and additional items eliciting “perceived health”, and administered to a second series of 74 adolescents, 40 boys and 34 girls, who were again aged from 11 to 18 years. Slightly less than half (46%) perceived their health as either “good” or “very good”, and one-third (33%) rated it as “average”. The majority (66%) felt themselves to be “the same” as, or only very slightly “different” from, their peers. The assessment of the seriousness of their condition by the adolescents, the degree to which they saw themselves as different from others, and their perceived health, were not related to the “complexity of the underlying medical condition” as rated by their physician. It was the psychosocial themes, such as exclusion from activities or the effect of the condition on relationships, that were most strongly related to the perception of their health by the adolescents. Improved education of parents, teachers and peers, and attendance at classes for cardiac rehabilitation, might help to ameliorate some of these problems.
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