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Chylothorax after congenital cardiac surgery is associated with increased risk of malnutrition. Nutritional management following chylothorax diagnosis varies across sites and patient populations, and a standardised approach has not been disseminated. The aim of this review article is to provide contemporary recommendations related to nutritional management of chylothorax to minimise risk of malnutrition.
The management guidelines were developed by consensus across four dietitians, one nurse practitioner, and two physicians with a cumulative 52 years of experience caring for children with CHD. A PubMed database search for relevant literature included the terms chylothorax, paediatric, postoperative, CHD, chylothorax management, growth failure, and malnutrition.
Fat-modified diets and nil per os therapies for all paediatric patients (<18 years of age) following cardiac surgery are highlighted in this review. Specific emphasis on strategies for treatment, duration of therapies, optimisation of nutrition including nutrition-focused lab monitoring, and supplementation strategies are provided.
Our deliverable is a clinically useful guide for the nutritional management of chylothorax following paediatric cardiac surgery.
A standardised multi-site approach to manage paediatric post-operative chylothorax does not exist and leads to unnecessary practice variation. The Chylothorax Work Group utilised the Pediatric Critical Care Consortium infrastructure to address this gap.
Over 60 multi-disciplinary providers representing 22 centres convened virtually as a quality initiative to develop an algorithm to manage paediatric post-operative chylothorax. Agreement was objectively quantified for each recommendation in the algorithm by utilising an anonymous survey. “Consensus” was defined as ≥ 80% of responses as “agree” or “strongly agree” to a recommendation. In order to determine if the algorithm recommendations would be correctly interpreted in the clinical environment, we developed ex vivo simulations and surveyed patients who developed the algorithm and patients who did not.
The algorithm is intended for all children (<18 years of age) within 30 days of cardiac surgery. It contains rationale for 11 central chylothorax management recommendations; diagnostic criteria and evaluation, trial of fat-modified diet, stratification by volume of daily output, timing of first-line medical therapy for “low” and “high” volume patients, and timing and duration of fat-modified diet. All recommendations achieved “consensus” (agreement >80%) by the workgroup (range 81–100%). Ex vivo simulations demonstrated good understanding by developers (range 94–100%) and non-developers (73%–100%).
The quality improvement effort represents the first multi-site algorithm for the management of paediatric post-operative chylothorax. The algorithm includes transparent and objective measures of agreement and understanding. Agreement to the algorithm recommendations was >80%, and overall understanding was 94%.
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