Infants with pulmonary atresia and intact ventricular septum pose a difficult clinical problem. Pulmonary valvotomy has been widely recommended for relief of the right ventricular obstruction, and most infants also have had an aortopulmonary shunt placed to ensure pulmonary blood flow. We have evolved a different approach that includes placement of a right ventricular outflow tract patch initially and continuation of prostaglandin E1 infusion postoperatively until the need for a shunt can be determined. We report here our management of 15 neonates with this diagnosis and suprasystemic right ventricular pressures. All of the infants were placed on a regimen of prostaglandin E1 before the operation to improve pulmonary blood flow, and all had an outflow patch placed early in life. Satisfactory postoperative right ventricular function, which would allow both outflow patching and ductus ligation, could be confidently predicted in only two of the 15 patients. For nine of the 15 an outflow patch was placed and prostaglandin was infused postoperatively to provide pulmonary blood flow until right ventricular function became adequate. Early in the series, three other infants were judged to need an aortopulmonary shunt in addition to decompression by an outflow patch, and one infant had only a shunt placed. Postoperatively, adequate pulmonary blood flow was present in all, and 11 of the 15 (73%) survived. Three of the deaths (average 2.8 days) after the outflow patch operation probably resulted from premature cessation of the prostaglandin infusion. One neonate with an outflow patch and a shunt died of myocardial ischemia because of coronary artery steal through right ventricular sinusoids. One late death occurred suddenly in the child with only a shunt, presumably because of an arrhythmia. The remaining survivors (10/15, 67%) are alive and have had complete repair. Study of these patients has also revealed that the definition of adequate right ventricular size needs to be more liberal. Five of the 10 surviving patients had a residual atrial septal defect with a right-to-left shunt at the ages of 1 to 3 years, but balloon occlusion of the atrial septal defect during cardiac catheterization revealed that the right ventricle in these patients was functionally adequate. These five children subsequently underwent closure of the atrial septal defect, and in two the aortopulmonary shunt was also taken down. In summary, correction was achieved in all survivors, in contrast to reported studies in which many patients are living with shunts. Certain unifying treatment principles have emerged: (1) outflow patching can be performed in the neonatal period with good results, maximizing the potential for right ventricular growth. (2) Pulmonary blood flow can usually be assured postoperatively with infusion of prostaglandin E1. With time, right ventricular function often improves and the necessity for placement of an aortopulmonary shunt can be assessed more impartially. (3) A shunt seems to be needed only infrequently. (4) In cases of apparently inadequate size of the right ventricle on follow-up, right ventricular function can be assessed during cardiac catheterization by balloon occlusion of the atrial septal defect. If occlusion is tolerated, right ventricular function will be satisfactory after closure of the atrial septal defect.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine