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Patients with tetralogy of Fallot, pulmonary atresia, and major aortopulmonary collaterals are at risk for prolonged hospitalisation after unifocalisation. Feeding problems after congenital heart surgery are associated with longer hospital stay. We sought to determine the impact of baseline, intra-operative, and postoperative factors on the need for feeding tube use at the time of discharge.
We included patients with the aforementioned diagnosis undergoing unifocalisation from ages 3 months to 4 years from 2010 to 2016. We excluded patients with a pre-existing feeding tube. Patients discharged with an enteric tube were included in the feeding tube group. We compared the feeding tube group with the non-feeding-tube group by univariable and multi-variable logistic regression.
Of the 56 patients studied, 41% used tube feeding. Median age and weight z-score were similar in the two groups. A chromosome 22q11 deletion was associated with the need for a feeding tube (22q11 deletion in 39% versus 15%, p=0.05). Median cardiopulmonary bypass time in the feeding tube group was longer (335 versus 244 minutes, p=0.04). Prolonged duration of mechanical ventilation was associated with feeding tube use (48 versus 3%, p=0.001). On multi-variable analysis, prolonged mechanical ventilation was associated with feeding tube use (odds ratio 10.2, 95% confidence intervals 1.6; 63.8).
Among patients with tetralogy of Fallot, pulmonary atresia, and major aortopulmonary collaterals who were feeding by mouth before surgery, prolonged mechanical ventilation after unifocalisation surgery was associated with feeding tube use at discharge. Anticipation of feeding problems in this population and earlier feeding tube placement may reduce hospital length of stay.