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A retrospective analysis of patients with hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy treated by left ventricular myotomy and myectomy from 1972 to 1994 is reported. There were 158 patients (81 male and 77 female) with a mean age of 50.2 (±17.2) years (range 12 to 80 years). One hundred nine patients (69%) were 60 years of age or younger, and 49 patients (31%) were older than 60 years. The overall mean follow-up period was 6.1 (±4.8) years (range 0.1 to 19.3 years) and was 94% complete with a cumulative total of 956 patient-years. Preoperative exertional dyspnea was present in 84%, chest pain in 70%, presyncope in 54%, syncope in 31%, and cardiac arrest in 5% of patients. Preoperative cardiac catheterization was done in 150 patients, with mitral regurgitation detected in 104 patients (67%). The average maximal provocable left ventricular outflow tract gradient was 118 (±46) mm Hg (range 25 to 250 mm Hg). The average preoperative echocardiographic gradient at rest was 64 mm Hg, 20 mm Hg in the early postoperative period and 10 mm Hg in the late postoperative period. The mean septal thickness was 2.2 (±0.6) cm, 1.9 (±0.7) cm in the early postoperative period (p < 0.05 vs preoperative) and 1.7 (±0.5) cm in the late postoperative period (p < 0.05 vs preoperative). The overall 30-day operative mortality rate was 3.2% (5/158), and 0% for 109 patients 60 years of age or younger. Causes of death included myocardial infarction and left ventricular free wall rupture, myocardial failure from septal perforation, sepsis, cerebrovascular accident caused by thromboembolism, and delayed cardiac tamponade in one patient each. Concomitant coronary artery bypass grafting was performed in 22 patients (19.3% of patients ≥40 years of age) and mitral valve replacement in 5 patients (3.2%). One hundred nine patients (69%) are alive, 10 patients (6.3%) were lost to follow-up, and 39 patients died (24.7%, including operative deaths). Actuarial survivals at 1, 5, 10, and 15 years were 92.4% ±2.2%, 85.4% ±3.1%, 71.5% ±4.6%, and 46% ±9%, respectively. The overall linearized death rate for discharged patients was 1.9%/pt-yr, and for cardiac related deaths it was 1.7%/pt-yr. Thirty-nine (36%) of the 109 survivors received β-adrenergic blockers, and 30 (28%) received calcium channel blockers. Ninety-four patients had improvement in New York Heart Association functional class, 10 had improvement in symptoms but not in functional class, and 5 had no improvement in functional class or symptoms. Neither preoperative hemodynamic values nor routine echocardiographic measurements significantly correlated with quality of postoperative results. Left ventricular myotomy and myectomy is a safe and reproducibly effective operative treatment for medically refractory hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy, especially for patients 60 years of age or younger. Improvement in functional class and symptoms can be expected in nearly all patients. The results of myotomy and myectomy serve as a standard for comparison with other interventions for medically refractory cardiomyopathy.