Recent developments in the perioperative management of the paediatric cardiac patient

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Purpose of review

Survival of infants born with complex cardiac anomalies has dramatically improved, and the growing population of patients with congenital heart disease reaching adulthood has resulted in an increased incidence of long-term complications related to the perioperative period. This review focuses on recent advances in strategies to prevent, detect, treat, or predict early and late complications arising from open heart surgery for congenital heart disease.

Recent findings

Aprotinine and recombinant factor VIIa may effectively reduce the risk of excessive perioperative bleeding, and the use of steroids, complement component C4A, heparin-coated circuits, and modified ultrafiltration may play a role in the control of the postoperative inflammatory response. Milrinone is becoming increasingly popular in the prevention and treatment of the reduced postoperative cardiac output, and extracorporeal life support has become a well established and successful form of support for postoperative myocardial dysfunction, even in the functionally univentricular heart. In recent years interest increased in optimizing myocardial protection using contents-differentiated and temperature-differentiated blood cardioplegia and in optimizing cerebral protection using a higher haematocrit during bypass and by using selective regional perfusion in favour of circulatory arrest.


Hearts can be mended, but salvation of hearts and brains needs further rigorous attention.

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