In 2004, practice guidelines for the management of heart failure in children by Rosenthal and colleagues were published in conjunction with the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation. These guidelines have not been updated or reviewed since that time. In general, there has been considerable controversy as to the utility and purpose of clinical practice guidelines, but there is general recognition that the relentless progress of medicine leads to the progressive irrelevance of clinical practice guidelines that do not undergo periodic review and updating. Paediatrics and paediatric cardiology, in particular, have had comparatively minimal participation in the clinical practice guidelines realm. As a result, most clinical practice guidelines either specifically exclude paediatrics from consideration, as has been the case for the guidelines related to cardiac failure in adults, or else involve clinical practice guidelines committees that include one or two paediatric cardiologists and produce guidelines that cannot reasonably be considered a consensus paediatric opinion. These circumstances raise a legitimate question as to whether the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation paediatric heart failure guidelines should be re-reviewed.
The time, effort, and expense involved in producing clinical practice guidelines should be considered before recommending an update to the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation Paediatric Heart Failure guidelines. There are specific areas of rapid change in the evaluation and management of heart failure in children that are undoubtedly worthy of updating. These domains include areas such as use of serum and imaging biomarkers, wearable and implantable monitoring devices, and acute heart failure management and mechanical circulatory support. At the time the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation guidelines were published, echocardiographic tissue Doppler, 3 dimensional imaging, and strain and strain rate were either novel or non-existent and have now moved into the main stream. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) had very limited availability, and since that time imaging and assessment of myocardial iron content, delayed gadolinium enhancement, and extracellular volume have moved into the mainstream. The only devices discussed in the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation guidelines were extracorporeal membrane oxygenators, pacemakers, and defibrillators. Since that time, ventricular assist devices have become mainstream. Despite the relative lack of randomised controlled trials in paediatric heart failure, advances continue to occur. These advances warrant implementation of an update and review process, something that is best done under the auspices of the national and international cardiology societies. A joint activity that includes the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation, American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association, the Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology (AEPC), European Society of Cardiology, Canadian Cardiovascular Society, and others will have more credibility than independent efforts by any of these organisations.