SUMMARY A cohort of 61 consecutive patients 24 months of age or younger had palliative shunts for symptoms of tetralogy of Fallot during a 12-year period. Thirty-six of these patients have been followed through definitive intracardiac repair or to death. For analysis palliative operations were separated into two six-year periods, 1965-1970 and 1971-1977. During the first period seven of 30 infants operated on died; all 31 infants operated on during the second period survived. The Waterston anastomosis was performed most frequently (67%) during the first period; the Blalock-Taussig anastomosis was performed in 68% of infants during the second period.
Of 54 hospital survivors, three died before definitive intracardiac repair. Two of the three interim deaths were related to heart disease. Twenty-six of the remaining 51 patients have had definitive intracardiac repair with two deaths (8%). Twenty-four in this group had intracardiac repair since 1973 with one hospital death (4%).
The cumulative mortality for the entire cohort is 25%, but more recent experience (1971-77) indicates a cumulative mortality near 5%. The recent mortality rate for staged management is less than the 14% rate reported by others for primary intracardiac repair of tetralogy of Fallot in 205 infants. We conclude that primary intracardiac repair has important advantages for infants with tetralogy of Fallot who have favorable anatomic features and no other associated cardiac lesions or medical problems. Staged management of tetralogy of Fallot is still recommended for infants with unfavorable anatomy, additional lesions or associated medical problems.