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Decision-making in congenital cardiac care, although sometimes appearing simple, may prove challenging due to lack of data, uncertainty about outcomes, underlying heuristics, and potential biases in how we reach decisions. We report on the decision-making complexities and uncertainty in management of five commonly encountered congenital cardiac problems: indications for and timing of treatment of subaortic stenosis, closure or observation of small ventricular septal defects, management of new-onset aortic regurgitation in ventricular septal defect, management of anomalous aortic origin of a coronary artery in an asymptomatic patient, and indications for operating on a single anomalously draining pulmonary vein. The strategy underpinning each lesion and the indications for and against intervention are outlined. Areas of uncertainty are clearly delineated. Even in the presence of “simple” congenital cardiac lesions, uncertainty exists in decision-making. Awareness and acceptance of uncertainty is first required to facilitate efforts at mitigation. Strategies to circumvent uncertainty in these scenarios include greater availability of evidence-based medicine, larger datasets, standardised clinical assessment and management protocols, and potentially the incorporation of artificial intelligence into the decision-making process.
Despite enormous strides in our field with respect to patient care, there has been surprisingly limited dialogue on how to train and educate the next generation of congenital cardiologists. This paper reviews the current status of training and evolving developments in medical education pertinent to congenital cardiology. The adoption of competency-based medical education has been lauded as a robust framework for contemporary medical education over the last two decades. However, inconsistencies in frameworks across different jurisdictions remain, and bridging gaps between competency frameworks and clinical practice has proved challenging. Entrustable professional activities have been proposed as a solution, but integration of such activities into busy clinical cardiology practices will present its own challenges. Consequently, this pivot towards a more structured approach to medical education necessitates the widespread availability of appropriately trained medical educationalists, a development that will better inform curriculum development, instructional design, and assessment. Differentiation between superficial and deep learning, the vital role of rich formative feedback and coaching, should guide our trainees to become self-regulated learners, capable of critical reasoning yet retaining an awareness of uncertainty and ambiguity. Furthermore, disruptive innovations such as “technology enhanced learning” may be leveraged to improve education, especially for trainees from low- and middle-income countries. Each of these initiatives will require resources, widespread advocacy and raised awareness, and publication of supporting data, and so it is especially gratifying that Cardiology in the Young has fostered a progressive approach, agreeing to publish one or two articles in each journal issue in this domain.
Webinars have recently replaced in-person medical conferences, including paediatric cardiology conferences, given the COVID-19 pandemic.
With increasing environmental concerns, we analysed the differences between the environmental footprint of a paediatric cardiology webinar with a hypothetical conference. Travel data was collected, with assumptions made on the amount of computer use, internet use and accordingly the overall use of electricity for both forms of conference. Life Cycle Assessment methodology was used (OpenLCA and Ecovinvent v 3.7).
We showed that the theoretical environmental impact of a virtual conference is significantly less (4 tons CO2 equivalent) than the traditional international face-to-face conference (192 tons CO2 equivalent). The life cycle assessment methodology showed that resource use for a face-to-face conference lasting 2.5 days for 1374 attendees is equivalent to 400 times what an average person would use in one year, the climate change and photochemical ozone formation approximately 250 times and the eutrophication terrestrial equivalent to 225 times. However, using carbon equivalent emissions to measure environmental harm from flying is an under estimate of the potential damage, when one considers the additional production of airplane contrails. Notwithstanding this, there is a 98% reduction in climate change impact when meetings are held virtually.
While the virtual conference may never completely replace the traditional in-person paediatric cardiology conference, due to networking benefits, the significant theoretical benefits to the environment highlighted in this study, warrants consideration for the virtual conference taking a more common place in sustainable academia.
This study investigated the impact of the Webinar on deep human learning of CHD.
Materials and methods:
This cross-sectional survey design study used an open and closed-ended questionnaire to assess the impact of the Webinar on deep learning of topical areas within the management of the post-operative tetralogy of Fallot patients. This was a quantitative research methodology using descriptive statistical analyses with a sequential explanatory design.
One thousand-three-hundred and seventy-four participants from 100 countries on 6 continents joined the Webinar, 557 (40%) of whom completed the questionnaire. Over 70% of participants reported that they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the Webinar format promoted deep learning for each of the topics compared to other standard learning methods (textbook and journal learning). Two-thirds expressed a preference for attending a Webinar rather than an international conference. Over 80% of participants highlighted significant barriers to attending conferences including cost (79%), distance to travel (49%), time commitment (51%), and family commitments (35%). Strengths of the Webinar included expertise, concise high-quality presentations often discussing contentious issues, and the platform quality. The main weakness was a limited time for questions. Just over 53% expressed a concern for the carbon footprint involved in attending conferences and preferred to attend a Webinar.
E-learning Webinars represent a disruptive innovation, which promotes deep learning, greater multidisciplinary participation, and greater attendee satisfaction with fewer barriers to participation. Although Webinars will never fully replace conferences, a hybrid approach may reduce the need for conferencing, reduce carbon footprint. and promote a “sustainable academia”.
Online learning has become an increasingly expected and popular component for education of the modern-day adult learner, including the medical provider. In light of the recent coronavirus pandemic, there has never been more urgency to establish opportunities for supplemental online learning. Heart University aims to be “the go-to online resource” for e-learning in CHD and paediatric-acquired heart disease. It is a carefully curated open access library of paedagogical material for all providers of care to children and adults with CHD or children with acquired heart disease, whether a trainee or a practising provider. In this manuscript, we review the aims, development, current offerings and standing, and future goals of Heart University.
Optimising short- and long-term outcomes for children and patients with CHD depends on continued scientific discovery and translation to clinical improvements in a coordinated effort by multiple stakeholders. Several challenges remain for clinicians, researchers, administrators, patients, and families seeking continuous scientific and clinical advancements in the field. We describe a new integrated research and improvement network – Cardiac Networks United – that seeks to build upon the experience and success achieved to-date to create a new infrastructure for research and quality improvement that will serve the needs of the paediatric and congenital heart community in the future. Existing gaps in data integration and barriers to improvement are described, along with the mission and vision, organisational structure, and early objectives of Cardiac Networks United. Finally, representatives of key stakeholder groups – heart centre executives, research leaders, learning health system experts, and parent advocates – offer their perspectives on the need for this new collaborative effort.
The long-term outcome of patients with congenitally malformed hearts involving abnormal right ventricular morphology and haemodynamics is variable. In most instances, the patients are at risk for right ventricular failure, in part due to morphological differences between the right and left ventricles and their response to chronic volume and pressure overload. In patients after repair of tetralogy of Fallot, and after balloon valvotomy for valvar pulmonary stenosis, pulmonary regurgitation is the most significant risk factor for right ventricular dysfunction. In patients with a dominant right ventricle after Fontan palliation, and in those with systemic right ventricles in association with surgically or congenitally corrected transposition, the right ventricle is not morphologically capable of dealing with chronic exposure to the high afterload of the systemic circulation. In patients with Ebstein’s malformation of the tricuspid valve, the degree of atrialisation of the right ventricle determines how well the right ventricle will function as the pump for the pulmonary vascular bed.
The aims of these recommendations are to improve the outcome for patients after, and to provide acceptable standards of practice of, therapeutic cardiac catheterisation performed to treat congenital cardiac disease. The scope of the recommendations includes all interventional procedures, recognising that for some congenital malformations, surgical treatment is equally as effective as, or occasionally preferable to, interventional treatment. The limitations of the recommendations are that, at present, no data are available which compare the results of interventional treatment with surgery, and certainly none which evaluate the numbers and types of procedures that need to be performed for the maintenance of skills. Thus, there is a recognised need to collect comprehensive data with which these recommendations could be reviewed in the future, and re-written as evidence-based guidelines. Such a review will have to take into account the methods of collection of data, their effectiveness, and the latest developments in technology. The present recommendations should, therefore, be considered as consensus statements, and as describing accepted practice, which could be used as a basis for ensuring and improving the quality of future care.
In this prospective study, pulmonary blood flow was measured using transesophageal Doppler echocardiography to assess whether ventilation by means of external high frequency oscillation around a negative pressure baseline can increase pulmonary blood flow, compared to intermittent positive pressure ventilation, in five patients after the Fontan operation. Pulmonary blood flow was measured when patients were ventilated by means of intermittent positive pressure ventilation and again during equivalent negative pressure ventilation using the external oscillatory technique. When compared to that with intermittent positive pressure ventilation, ventilation using external high frequency oscillation increased pulmonary blood flow by 116 ±61.5% (p=0.013). These results show that ventilation using an external oscillatory device with a mean negative chamber pressure may provide hemodynamic advantages in patients requiring assisted ventilation after the Fontan operation.
Using combined epicardial echocardiography and high-fidelity intraventricular pressure recordings, the acute effects of transition to a Fontan circulation were studied in 10 patients. Measurements were made before and after cardiopulmonary bypass. The Fontan operation had no significant effect on load-dependent indices, or on a load independent index (Vmax) of ventricular systolic function. Large changes were observed in ventricular geometry. Maximum and minimum cavity dimensions were reduced, while maximum and minimum thicknesses of the posterior wall were increased.While simultaneous Doppler/intraventricular pressure measurements suggested that the compliance of the ventricle was unchanged, the pattern of atrioventricular flow changed from predominantly early diastolic (E wave) to predominantly atrial systolic (A wave) as a result of surgery in four patients. The time constant of ventricular relaxation was prolonged in all patients and five developed Doppler echocardiographic evidence of incoordinate relaxation of the ventricle, with intraventricular flow occurring during isovolumic relaxation. Thus, the Fontan operation causes acute hypertrophy of the systemic ventricle due to a sudden reduction in ventricular preload in the presence of a maintained shortening fraction. While global ventricular diastolic compliance may be unchanged by the operative procedure, filling of the ventricle during early diastole is altered as a result of incoordinate relaxation and a prolonged time constant of ventricular relaxation.
We report a case of an infant with isomerism of the right atrial appendages in whom a spleen-like nodule was found at post-mortem. The nodule, on histology, was found to be a fragment of liver. The cardiac lesions were typical of those associated with right isomerism, a complex generally described as the “asplenia syndrome.” The presence of either a spleen, or a nodule masquerading as a spleen, does not preclude an isomeric arrangement of the atrial appendages nor its commonly associated constellation of cardiovascular anomalies.
We describe a new method of transvenous laser or radiofrequency perforation of the pulmonary valve with subsequent balloon pulmonary valvoplasty. The technique obviates the need for arterial catheterisation and considerably shortens the time needed for the procedure. Uncomplicated and successful relief of pulmonary valvar atresia was achieved in both patients attempted, although one ultimately required a Blalock-Taussig shunt because of increasing muscular obstruction of the right ventricular outflow tract.
In order to examine right ventricular diastolic function after complete correction of pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum and critical pulmonary valvar stenosis, we undertook a prospective analysis of seven patients who had previously undergone successful repair. Comparison was with age and sex-matched controls. The relationship between antegrade pulmonary arterial diastolic flow and other indices of right ventricular dysfunction were compared. The ratio of the velocity of early rapid filling to that of atrial systolic flow was no different from normal, but the deceleration of early rapid filling showed significant shortening with inspiration in patients, but not in control subjects. All patients, but none of the controls, demonstrated significant antegrade diastolic pulmonary arterial flow during late diastole. Despite “normal” ratios ofvelocity of early rapid filling to systolic atrial flow, patients after complete correction of pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum and critical pulmonary stenosis have abnormal right ventricular diastolic function typical of a restrictive physiology. This presumably reflects incomplete adaptation due to the presence of endomyocardial fibrosis.
The justification for the introduction of the arterial switch procedure was based, primarily, on concern regarding the long-term ability of the right ventricle to perform as the systemic pumping chamber. In this article, the functional performance of both the systemic and pulmonary ventricles after atrial redirection procedures and the arterial switch operation will be discussed.