Improved Survival Following Pediatric Cardiac Transplantation in High-Risk Patients

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Abstract

Background.

Preoperative hemodynamic support, complex congenital heart disease, and elevated pulmonary vascular resistance present particular challenges for pediatric heart transplantation. This study was performed to identify preoperative factors that influence survival after pediatric heart transplantation over two eras of pediatric heart transplant experience.

Methods and Results.

We retrospectively analyzed demographic, clinical, and hemodynamic data from 67 pediatric patients who underwent heart transplantation between February 1982 and June 1992 and compared survival between two eras (early experience versus late experience). During the early experience (group 1: February 1982 to August 1989), univariate analysis identified congenital heart disease, pretransplant extracorporeal membrane oxygenator (ECMO) support, inotropic and/or ventilatory support (UNOS status I), elevated transpulmonary gradient (at least 15 mm Hg), and elevated pulmonary vascular resistance index (at least 4 Wood units • m2) as preoperative risk factors for early death after pediatric heart transplantation. However, in the late experience (group 2: September 1989 to June 1992), the only risk factor for premature death by univariate analysis was elevated transpulmonary gradient. By multivariate analysis, elevated transpulmonary gradient was the only risk factor for our early, late, and entire experiences. One-year survival after transplantation for congenital heart disease was improved from 46% in group 1 to 73% in group 2 (P<.05). In group 1, only one patient (25%) with pretransplant ECMO support survived 1 year, whereas 66% (four of six) survived more than 1 year in group 2.

Conclusions.

Although elevated transpulmonary gradient continues to be a significant risk factor for pediatric heart transplantation, candidates with congenital heart disease, UNOS status I, and pretransplant ECMO support now can be successfully transplanted with reasonable hope for extended survival. (Circulation.1993;88[part 2]:218–223.)

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