The Frequency of Anesthesia-Related Cardiac Arrests in Patients with Congenital Heart Disease Undergoing Cardiac Surgery

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BACKGROUND:The frequency of anesthesia-related cardiac arrests during pediatric anesthesia has been reported between 1.4 and 4.6 per 10,000 anesthetics. ASA physical status >III and younger age are risk factors. Patients with congenital cardiac disease may also be at increased risk. Therefore, in this study, we evaluated the frequency of cardiac arrest in patients with congenital heart disease undergoing cardiac surgery at a large pediatric tertiary referral center.METHODS:Using an established data registry, all cardiac arrests from January 2000 through December 2005 occurring in the cardiac operating rooms were reviewed. A cardiac arrest was defined as any event requiring external or internal chest compressions, with or without direct cardioversion. Events determined to be anesthesia-related were classified as likely related or possibly related.RESULTS:There were 41 cardiac arrests in 40 patients (median age, 2.9 mo; range, 2 days to 23 yr) during 5213 anesthetics over the time period, for an overall frequency of 0.79%; 78% were open procedures requiring cardiopulmonary bypass and 22% closed procedures not requiring cardiopulmonary bypass. Eleven cardiac arrests (26.8%) were classified as either likely (n = 6) or possibly related (n = 5) to anesthesia, (21.1 per 10,000 anesthetics) but with no mortality; 30 were categorized as procedure-related. The incidence of anesthesia-related and procedure-related cardiac arrests was highest in neonates (P < 0.001). There was no association with year of event or experience of the anesthesiologist.CONCLUSION:The frequency of anesthesia-related cardiac arrest in patients undergoing cardiac surgery is increased, but is not associated with an increase in mortality. Neonates and infants are at higher risk. Careful preparation and anticipation is important to ensure timely and effective resuscitation.

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