Outcome for Pediatric Cardiac Transplantation With and Without Bridge Methods

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Heart transplantation is indicated for children with end-stage heart failure or complex inoperable congenital defects. Due to the shortage of pediatric donor hearts, various bridge techniques have been used for pediatric recipients to prolong patient survival until a heart is available. This study evaluates long-term outcome of bridge and nonbridge support for pediatric heart transplantation. Between March 1995 and June 2004, 18 pediatric patients underwent heart transplantation. Six patients (33.3%) underwent biological or mechanical bridge techniques before transplantation. Eight patients (44.4%) required perioperatively extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support. Patient data and records were retrospectively reviewed. Causes of death and long-term outcome were analyzed. Five of eight patients in the ECMO group (62.5%) were successfully decannulated and discharged home with excellent functional classes. No differences in rejection rate, survival rate, and functional class existed between the bridged and nonbridged groups. Overall 1-year and 5-year survival rates were both 83.3% and all have a good functional class. Pediatric heart transplantation can be accomplished with excellent early survival despite multiple prior cardiac operations and relatively severe illness. For the variety in small, low-body-weight pediatric patients, mechanical circulatory support using ECMO is suitable for managing sudden collapse while waiting for heart transplantation, and graft dysfunction after cardiac transplantation. The mortality rate is acceptable in this very high-risk group of patients and long-term outcome is good.

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