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Limited data exist on training of European paediatric and adult congenital cardiologists.
A structured and approved questionnaire was circulated to national delegates of Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology in 33 European countries.
Delegates from 30 countries (91%) responded. Paediatric cardiology was not recognised as a distinct speciality by the respective ministry of Health in seven countries (23%). Twenty countries (67%) have formally accredited paediatric cardiology training programmes, seven (23%) have substantial informal (not accredited or certified) training, and three (10%) have very limited or no programme. Twenty-two countries have a curriculum. Twelve countries have a national training director. There was one paediatric cardiology centre per 2.66 million population (range 0.87–9.64 million), one cardiac surgical centre per 4.73 million population (range 1.63–10.72 million), and one training centre per 4.29 million population (range 1.63–10.72 million population). The median number of paediatric cardiology fellows per training programme was 4 (range 1–17), and duration of training was 3 years (range 2–5 years). An exit examination in paediatric cardiology was conducted in 16 countries (53%) and certification provided by 20 countries (67%). Paediatric cardiologist number is affected by gross domestic product (R2 = 0.41).
Training varies markedly across European countries. Although formal fellowship programmes exist in many countries, several countries have informal training or no training. Only a minority of countries provide both exit examination and certification. Harmonisation of training and standardisation of exit examination and certification could reduce variation in training thereby promoting high-quality care by European congenital cardiologists.
To investigate the effect of bosentan in patients with a failing Fontan circulation.
A multicentric open label, non-controlled study.
5 tertiary care centres for congenital cardiology.
We included 10 patients with a failing Fontan circulation. Their median age at inclusion was 12.12 years, with a range from 4.41 to 33,41 years. The median interval between the Fontan operation and inclusion was 7.84 years, with a range from 1.96 to 12,18 years. Participants received half the usual dose of bosentan for 4 weeks, and then the full dose for a further 12 weeks.
Main measures of outcomes
We assessed saturations of oxygen at rest and during exercise, using a 6 minutes walk test, at baseline, and during and after 16 weeks of treatment. At each visit, we assessed blood chemistry and hepatic function, and asked the patients to complete a questionnaire concerning quality of life. All medical events and possible side effects were recorded.
Of the cohort, 1 patient withdrew. The changes in saturations of oxygen, exercise performance, and scores for the questionnaire did not reach statistical significance for the whole group. We noted, nonetheless, that saturations of oxygen and/or exercise capacity improved in 5 of the patients. This was further confirmed when those patients deteriorated again when the drug was discontinued.
Our study failed to show significant improvement after 3 months of treatment with bosentan in a small group of patients with failing Fontan circulations. Some individuals, nonetheless, did improve. When planning larger trials, it would be better to identify those patients who might potentially benefit from the treatment prior to commencing the trial.
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