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Patients with univentricular heart defects require lifelong imaging surveillance. Recent advances in non-invasive imaging have enabled replacing these patients’ routine catheterisation. Our objective was to describe the safety and cost savings of transition of a tertiary care children’s hospital from routine invasive to routine non-invasive imaging of low-risk patients with univentricular heart defects.
This single-centre cohort study consists of 1) a retrospective analysis of the transition from cardiac catheterisation (n = 21) to CT angiography (n = 20) before bidirectional Glenn operation and 2) a prospective study (n = 89) describing cardiac magnetic resonance before and after the total cavopulmonary connection in low-risk patients with univentricular heart defects.
Pre-Glenn: The total length of CT angiography was markedly shorter compared to the catheterisation: 30 min (range: 20–60) and 125 min (range: 70–220), respectively (p < 0.001). Catheterisation used more iodine contrast agents than CT angiography, 19 ± 3.9 ml, and 10 ± 2.4 ml, respectively (p < 0.001). Controlled ventilation was used for all catheterised and 3 (15%) CT angiography patients (p < 0.001). No complications occurred during CT angiography, while they emerged in 19% (4/21) catheterisation cases (p < 0.001). CT angiography and catheterisation showed no significant difference in the radiation exposure. Pre-/post-total cavopulmonary connection: All cardiac magnetic resonance studies were successful, and no complications occurred. In 60% of the cardiac magnetic resonance (53/89), no sedation was performed, and peripheral venous pressure was measured in all cases. Cost analysis suggests that moving to non-invasive imaging yielded cost savings of at least €2500–4000 per patient.
Transition from routine invasive to routine non-invasive pre-and post-operative imaging is safely achievable with cost savings.
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.
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