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Many factors affect patient outcome after congenital heart surgery, including the complexity of the heart disease, pre-operative status, patient specific factors (prematurity, nutritional status and/or presence of comorbid conditions or genetic syndromes), and post-operative residual lesions. The Residual Lesion Score is a novel tool for assessing whether specific residual cardiac lesions after surgery have a measurable impact on outcome. The goal is to understand which residual lesions can be tolerated and which should be addressed prior to leaving the operating room. The Residual Lesion Score study is a large multicentre prospective study designed to evaluate the association of Residual Lesion Score to outcomes in infants undergoing surgery for CHD. This Pediatric Heart Network and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-funded study prospectively enrolled 1,149 infants undergoing 5 different congenital cardiac surgical repairs at 17 surgical centres. Given the contribution of echocardiographic measurements in assigning the Residual Lesion Score, the Residual Lesion Score study made use of a centralised core lab in addition to site review of all data. The data collection plan was designed with the added goal of collecting image quality information in a way that would permit us to improve our understanding of the reproducibility, variability, and feasibility of the echocardiographic measurements being made. There were significant challenges along the way, including the coordination, de-identification, storage, and interpretation of very large quantities of imaging data. This necessitated the development of new infrastructure and technology, as well as use of novel statistical methods. The study was successfully completed, but the size and complexity of the population being studied and the data being extracted required more technologic and human resources than expected which impacted the length and cost of conducting the study. This paper outlines the process of designing and executing this complex protocol, some of the barriers to implementation and lessons to be considered in the design of future studies.
The Residual Lesion Score is a novel tool for assessing the achievement of surgical objectives in congenital heart surgery based on widely available clinical and echocardiographic characteristics. This article describes the methodology used to develop the Residual Lesion Score from the previously developed Technical Performance Score for five common congenital cardiac procedures using the RAND Delphi methodology.
A panel of 11 experts from the field of paediatric and congenital cardiology and cardiac surgery, 2 co-chairs, and a consultant were assembled to review and comment on validity and feasibility of measuring the sub-components of intraoperative and discharge Residual Lesion Score for five congenital cardiac procedures. In the first email round, the panel reviewed and commented on the Residual Lesion Score and provided validity and feasibility scores for sub-components of each of the five procedures. In the second in-person round, email comments and scores were reviewed and the Residual Lesion Score revised. The modified Residual Lesion Score was scored independently by each panellist for validity and feasibility and used to develop the “final” Residual Lesion Score.
The Residual Lesion Score sub-components with a median validity score of ≥7 and median feasibility score of ≥4 that were scored without disagreement and with low absolute deviation from the median were included in the “final” Residual Lesion Score.
Using the RAND Delphi methodology, we were able to develop Residual Lesion Score modules for five important congenital cardiac procedures for the Pediatric Heart Network’s Residual Lesion Score study.
While echocardiographic parameters are used to quantify ventricular function in infants with single ventricle physiology, there are few data comparing these to invasive measurements. This study correlates echocardiographic measures of diastolic function with ventricular end-diastolic pressure in infants with single ventricle physiology prior to superior cavopulmonary anastomosis.
Data from 173 patients enrolled in the Pediatric Heart Network Infant Single Ventricle enalapril trial were analysed. Those with mixed ventricular types (n = 17) and one outlier (end-diastolic pressure = 32 mmHg) were excluded from the analysis, leaving a total sample size of 155 patients. Echocardiographic measurements were correlated to end-diastolic pressure using Spearman’s test.
Median age at echocardiogram was 4.6 (range 2.5–7.4) months. Median ventricular end-diastolic pressure was 7 (range 3–19) mmHg. Median time difference between the echocardiogram and catheterisation was 0 days (range −35 to 59 days). Examining the entire cohort of 155 patients, no echocardiographic diastolic function variable correlated with ventricular end-diastolic pressure. When the analysis was limited to the 86 patients who had similar sedation for both studies, the systolic:diastolic duration ratio had a significant but weak negative correlation with end-diastolic pressure (r = −0.3, p = 0.004). The remaining echocardiographic variables did not correlate with ventricular end-diastolic pressure.
In this cohort of infants with single ventricle physiology prior to superior cavopulmonary anastomosis, most conventional echocardiographic measures of diastolic function did not correlate with ventricular end-diastolic pressure at cardiac catheterisation. These limitations should be factored into the interpretation of quantitative echo data in this patient population.
A few studies have evaluated the impact of clinical trial results on practice in paediatric cardiology. The Infant Single Ventricle (ISV) Trial results published in 2010 did not support routine use of the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor enalapril in infants with single-ventricle physiology. We sought to assess the influence of these findings on clinical practice.
A web-based survey was distributed via e-mail to over 2000 paediatric cardiologists, intensivists, cardiothoracic surgeons, and cardiac advance practice nurses during three distribution periods. The results were analysed using McNemar’s test for paired data and Fisher’s exact test.
The response rate was 31.5% (69% cardiologists and 65% with >10 years of experience). Among respondents familiar with trial results, 74% reported current practice consistent with trial findings versus 48% before trial publication (p<0.001); 19% used angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor in this population “almost always” versus 36% in the past (p<0.001), and 72% reported a change in management or improved confidence in treatment decisions involving this therapy based on the trial results. Respondents familiar with trial results (78%) were marginally more likely to practise consistent with the trial results than those unfamiliar (74 versus 67%, p=0.16). Among all respondents, 28% reported less frequent use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor over the last 3 years.
Within 5 years of publication, the majority of respondents was familiar with the Infant Single Ventricle Trial results and reported less frequent use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor in single-ventricle infants; however, 28% reported not adjusting their clinical decisions based on the trial’s findings.
Infants with coarctation of the aorta may have obstructions at other sites within the left heart which are not always apparent on the initial echocardiogram. The magnitude of the risk of having the additional obstructions is not well described, with few reliable quantitative criterions for identifying patients at the highest risk. We determined the frequency of additional, late appearing, stenotic lesions within the left heart, and the predictive morphologic features on the initial cross-sectional echocardiogram.
We identified all patients with coarctation of the aorta diagnosed by 3 months of age, excluding those with complex cardiac disease or definite additional stenotic lesions at presentation, leaving 101 patients for study. At follow-up, 31 stenotic lesions were diagnosed in 23 patients, 15 of whom had at least 1 intervention. Mitral stenosis was diagnosed in 11 patients, aortic stenosis in 10, subaortic stenosis in 8, and supravalvar aortic stenosis in 2. The probability for freedom from obstructive lesions was 81% at 1 year, 74% at 3 years, and 70% at 5 years. Echocardiographic predictors of mitral stenosis included smaller mitral valvar annuluses, presence of a mean transmitral gradient between 2.5 and 5.0 mmHg, and elongation of the area of intervalvar fibrous continuity. Predictors of aortic stenosis were smaller mitral valvar annuluses, an initial aortic valvar gradient between 15 and 20 mmHg, and obliteration of the commissure between the right and non-coronary leaflets of the aortic valve. Predictors of subaortic stenosis were smaller mitral valvar annuluses and elongation of the area of intervalvar fibrous continuity. Patients with Z-scores for the diameter of the mitral valve of less than −1 were at the highest risk for manifesting obstructive lesions at any level.
Associated stenoses in the left heart are common in the setting of aortic coarctation. When Doppler data is equivocal, features of the cross-sectional echocardiogram can identify the sub-group of infants at increased risk.