Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 July 2013
Objective: To make a historical comparison on the long-term psychosocial outcome of cardiothoracic surgery during childhood. Methods: Adult patients operated for tetralogy of Fallot or transposition of the great arteries between 1980 and 1990 (recent sample) were compared with patients who underwent surgery and were investigated 10 years earlier (historical sample). In addition, atrial switch and arterial switch patients within the recent sample were compared. Psychosocial functioning was measured using standardised, validated psychological questionnaires. Results: Although the recent sample of patients overall shows a favourable quality of life, impairments were found in income, living conditions, relationships, offspring, and occupational level. Compared with the historical sample, the recent sample showed no significant improvements on psychosocial functioning, except for a better educational level. The amount of educational problems, such as learning difficulties, was still high compared with normative data. Recently operated patients with transposition of the great arteries (arterial switch) scored significantly better on the Short Form-36 vitality scale (p = 0.02) compared with historical patients with transposition of the great arteries (atrial switch). Conclusions: Despite improvements in medical treatment over the past few decades, hardly any change was found in the psychosocial outcome of the recent patient sample compared with the historical patient sample. In particular, the percentage of patients needing special education and showing learning problems remained high, whereas income was low compared with normative data.