Neurodevelopmental outcomes after congenital heart surgery and strategies for improvement

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Purpose of reviewThe present review focuses on neurodevelopmental and neuropsychologic outcomes following neonatal and infant heart surgery for complex congenital heart lesions. The data include recent reports on perioperative MRI and recent results of randomized clinical trials addressing perioperative variables.Recent findingsAdvancements in magnetic resonance techniques have reinforced earlier data that newborns with complex congenital heart lesions are frequently born with brain immaturity. Randomized clinical trials have looked at several important perioperative candidate predictors as potential independent risk factors for worsened neurodevelopmental outcomes: no difference was found between regional cerebral perfusion and deep hypothermic circulatory arrest on 1-year outcomes; no difference was found between the modified Blalock–Taussig shunt and the right ventricular to pulmonary artery shunt as part of the Norwood procedure on 14-month outcomes; at 16-year testing for individuals with transposition of the great arteries following the arterial switch operation, no significant difference was found between low-flow cardiopulmonary bypass and deep hypothermic circulatory arrest.SummaryRandomized clinical, cross-sectional, and prospective trials have explored robust analyses looking for independent risk factors for worsened neurodevelopmental outcomes. Most of these risk factors are patient-related or socioeconomic, with only a few potentially modifiable.

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