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The European Congenital Heart Surgeons Association (ECHSA) Congenital Database (CD) is the second largest clinical pediatric and congenital cardiac surgical database in the world and the largest in Europe, where various smaller national or regional databases exist. Despite the dramatic increase in interventional cardiology procedures over recent years, only scattered national or regional databases of such procedures exist in Europe. Most importantly, no congenital cardiac database exists in the world that seamlessly combines both surgical and interventional cardiology data on an international level; therefore, the outcomes of surgical and interventional procedures performed on the same or similar patients cannot easily be tracked, assessed, and analyzed. In order to fill this important gap in our capability to gather and analyze information on our common patients, ECHSA and The Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology (AEPC) have embarked on a collaborative effort to expand the ECHSA-CD with a new module designed to capture data about interventional cardiology procedures. The purpose of this manuscript is to describe the concept, the structure, and the function of the new AEPC Interventional Cardiology Part of the ECHSA-CD, as well as the potentially valuable synergies provided by the shared interventional and surgical analyses of outcomes of patients. The new AEPC Interventional Cardiology Part of the ECHSA-CD will allow centers to have access to robust surgical and transcatheter outcome data from their own center, as well as robust national and international aggregate outcome data for benchmarking. Each contributing center or department will have access to their own data, as well as aggregate data from the AEPC Interventional Cardiology Part of the ECHSA-CD. The new AEPC Interventional Cardiology Part of the ECHSA-CD will allow cardiology centers to have access to aggregate cardiology data, just as surgical centers already have access to aggregate surgical data. Comparison of surgical and catheter interventional outcomes could potentially strengthen decision processes. A study of the wealth of information collected in the database could potentially also contribute toward improved early and late survival, as well as enhanced quality of life of patients with pediatric and/or congenital heart disease treated with surgery and interventional cardiac catheterization across Europe and the world.
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.
This study describes short-term and long-term outcome after treatment of critical valvular aortic stenosis in neonates in a national cohort, with surgical valvotomy as first choice intervention.
All neonates in Sweden treated for critical aortic stenosis between 1994 and 2016 were included. Patient files were analysed and cross-checked against the Swedish National Population Registry as of December 2017, giving complete survival data. Diagnosis was confirmed by reviewing echo studies. Critical aortic stenosis was defined as valvular stenosis with duct-dependent systemic circulation or depressed left ventricular function. Primary outcome was all-cause mortality and secondary outcomes were reintervention and aortic valve replacement.
Sixty-one patients were identified (50 boys, 11 girls). Primary treatment was surgical valvotomy in 52 neonates and balloon valvotomy in 6. Median age at initial treatment was 5 days (0–26), and median follow-up time was 10.8 years (0.14–22.6). There was no 30-day mortality but four late deaths. Freedom from reintervention was 66%, 61%, 54%, 49%, and 46% at 1, 5, 10, 15, and 20 years, respectively. Median time to reintervention was 3.4 months (4 days to 17.3 years). Valve replacement was performed in 23 patients (38%).
Surgical valvotomy is a safe and reliable treatment in these critically ill neonates, with no 30-day mortality and long-term survival of 93% in this national study. At 10 years of age, reintervention was performed in 54% and at end of follow-up 38% had had an aortic valve replacement.
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.
Norwood surgery has been available in Sweden since 1993. In this national cohort study, we analysed transplantation-free survival after Norwood surgery for hypoplastic left heart syndrome with aortic atresia.
Patients were identified from the complete national cohort of live-born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome/aortic atresia 1993–2010. Analysis of survival after surgery was performed using Cox proportional hazards models for the total cohort and for birth period and gender separately. Thirty-day mortality and inter-stage mortality were analysed. Patients were followed until September 2016.
The 1993–2010 cohort consisted of 208 live-born infants. Norwood surgery was performed in 121/208 (58%). The overall transplantation-free survival was 61/121 (50%). The survival was higher in the late period (10-year survival 63%) than in the early period (10-year survival 40%) (p = 0.010) and lower for female (10-year survival 34%) than for male patients (10-year survival 59%) (p = 0.002). Inter-stage mortality between stages I and II decreased from 23 to 8% (p = 0.008). For male patients, low birthweight in relation to gestational age was a factor associated with poor outcome.
The survival after Norwood surgery for hypoplastic left heart syndrome/aortic atresia improved by era of surgery, mainly explained by improved survival between stages I and II. Female gender was a significant risk factor for death or transplantation. For male patients, there was an increased risk of death when birthweight was lower than expected in relation to gestational age.
Children who undergo surgery for complex congenital cardiac disease are reported to be at increased thrombotic risk. Our aim was to evaluate long-term changes in the haemostatic system after surgery, to compare markers of activated coagulation in children having surgery with those in a healthy control population, and to relate them to adverse clinical outcome.
Patients and methods
We studied, prior to surgery, the coagulation profiles of a cohort of 28 children admitted for a modified Fontan operation, studying them again after a period of mean follow-up of 9.6 years. Median age at the time of final surgery was 18.5 months, with a range from 12 to 76 months. We compared generation of thrombin, and levels of the activated protein C-protein C inhibitor complex to controls at follow-up. Thrombophilia and clinical outcome were evaluated.
At long-term follow-up, a lower incidence of procoagulant abnormalities was observed compared to that before surgery. Of 27 patients, 3 (11%), but none of 45 controls, had levels of activated protein C-protein C inhibitor complex above the reference range. There were no significant differences in generation of thrombin between patients and controls. No thrombotic events were recorded, and the patients were generally in good clinical condition.
Overall, haemostasis appeared to be in balance, and less prothrombotic, after surgery. A subset of the cohort did show indications of activated coagulation. The current therapeutic approach seems to be sufficient to protect the majority of patient. New tests of global coagulation, nonetheless, may be helpful in improving identification of individuals at increased thrombotic risk.
Although patients undergoing surgery with the Fontan procedure or its modifications are increasingly recognised to be at risk for thromboembolism, further knowledge is needed to minimise this complication and its sequels. To address this issue, we reviewed 100 patients operated with the Fontan procedure, the bidirectional Glenn anastomosis and/or the total cavopulmonary connection to describe our incidence and clinical characteristics of postoperative formation of thrombus. Symptomatic thrombosis or cerebrovascular accidents were found in 5 patients. Asymptomatic thrombus were found in another 5 patients. Three patients had venous thrombi. In 6 patients the thrombosis was found on the arterial side. In all these cases, the thrombus was located in the stump of the divided pulmonary trunk. In 3 of these patients, sudden onset of hemiparesis preceded the diagnosis of the thrombus while the remaining 3 patients were asymptomatic. In 3 cases, the formation of thrombus in the stump of the divided pulmonary trunk occurred after a bidirectional Glenn anastomosis. One patient developed severe neurological symptoms 2 months after a total cavopulmonary connection. No thrombus was found, but the patient had a small right-to-left shunt and embolization could not be excluded. The incidence of thrombosis after Fontan-type surgery in this study is 10%. Although not all episodes of thrombosis are symptomatic, there is a significant risk of severe sequels due to embolization to the pulmonary or cerebral circulations. The stump of the divided pulmonary trunk is one of the main sites for intracardiac formation of thrombus, even after a bidirectional Glenn anastomosis.
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