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Limited data exist on how trainees in paediatric cardiology are assessed among countries affiliated with the Association of European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology.
A structured and approved questionnaire was circulated to educationalists/trainers in 95 Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology training centres.
Trainers from 46 centres responded with complete data in 41 centres. Instructional design included bedside teaching (41/41), didactic teaching (38/41), problem-based learning (28/41), cardiac catheterisation calculations (34/41), journal club (31/41), fellows presenting in the multidisciplinary meeting (41/41), fellows reporting on echocardiograms (34/41), clinical simulation (17/41), echocardiography simulation (10/41), and catheterisation simulation (3/41). Assessment included case-based discussion (n = 27), mini-clinical evaluation exercise (mini-CEX) (n = 12), directly observed procedures (n = 12), oral examination (n = 16), long cases (n = 11), written essay questions (n = 6), multiple choice questions (n = 5), and objective structured clinical examination (n = 2). Entrustable professional activities were utilised in 10 (24%) centres. Feedback was summative only in 17/41 (41%) centres, formative only in 12/41 (29%) centres and a combination of formative and summative feedback in 10/41 (24%) centres. Written feedback was provided in 10/41 (24%) centres. Verbal feedback was most common in 37/41 (90 %) centres.
There is a marked variation in instructional design and assessment across European paediatric cardiac centres. A wide mix of assessment tools are used. Feedback is provided by the majority of centres, mostly verbal summative feedback. Adopting a programmatic assessment focusing on competency/capability using multiple assessment tools with regular formative multisource feedback may promote assessment for learning of paediatric cardiology trainees.
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.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge influence in almost all areas of life, affecting societies, economics, and health care systems worldwide. The paediatric cardiology community is no exception. As the challenging battle with COVID-19 continues, professionals from the Association for the European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology receive many questions regarding COVID-19 in a Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology setting. The aim of this paper is to present the AEPC position on frequently asked questions based on the most recent scientific data, as well as to frame a discussion on how to take care of our patients during this unprecedented crisis. As the times are changing quickly and information regarding COVID-19 is very dynamic, continuous collection of evidence will help guide constructive decision-making.
Superior caval venous syndrome is one of the late problems known to occur after Mustard repair of complete transposition. Reoperation may leave residual stenosis, and carries substantial risk for the patient. It is now feasible to use intravascular stents to overcome systemic venous baffle obstructions, and such an approach is probably more effective. The purpose of our study therefore, was to assess immediate and medium term results of inserting stents subsequent to gradual balloon enlargement of acquired atresia of the intraatrial baffle in patients who had undergone an atrial switch operation. We investigated five patients with complete obstruction of the superior caval venous pathway at perforation of the atretic segment was achieved using a guide wire technique. The procedure was successful in all patients. Gradual angioplasty was performed and intravascular stents were implanted. The pressure in the superior caval vein dropped to normal values, symptoms improved, and the patency of the newly created venoatrial communication was proven at mid-term follow-up. Thus critical obstructions at the superior caval venous pathway after the Mustard procedure can be reopened by interventional catheterization. Implantation of balloon-expandable intravascular stents is safe and effective in the acute relief of the obstructions, but careful long-term follow-up is mandatory.
To assess the feasibility of interatrial stenting for left atrial decompression in infants with hypoplastic left heart syndrome treated by a “hybrid-approach”, with bilateral surgical banding of the pulmonary arteries and percutaneous stenting of the arterial duct.
Patients and methods
We stented the atrial septum in 5 infants aged from 21 to 77 days, making the intervention as an elective procedure in 4, but as a rescue procedure in the fifth patient, who had a restrictive foramen. The stents, comprising 2 Jo-stents of 17 millimetres hand-crimped on a balloon catheter with dimensions of 10 by 20 millimetres, and 3 premounted Genesis stents with dimensions of 10 by 19 millimetres, were placed using a 6 French long or short sheath by femoral venous access. The stents were expanded under fluoroscopic guidance to create a slightly diabolo-shaped form that fitted the septum.
The percutaneous interventions were successfully performed in all cases, producing significant improvement in clinical condition after placement. The saturations of oxygen increased from an average of 64% plus or minus 18% to 88% plus or minus 7%, (p < 0.05). During a mean follow up of 2.5 months, without any anticoagulant therapy, there were no complications related to the stenting. Surgical removal of the stents was uneventful during reconstruction of the aortic arch and creation of a bidirectional cavopulmonary connection in 4 patients, and during cardiac transplantation in one.
In the context of the hybrid approach, definitive decompression of the left atrium can be achieved by stenting the atrial septum in infants with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Placement of the stents is safe and effective, with insertion in the form of a diabolo reducing the risk of dislocation, as well as embolisation of the stent.
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