Outcome of cardiac surgery in low birth weight and premature infants

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Low birth weight or premature infants may require early surgical treatment of congenital cardiac lesions because of their poor clinical status. Even thought early repair or palliation is carried out with incremental risk factor for morbidity and mortality, it has been demonstrated to be preferable to medical management and delayed surgery. This retrospective study was undertaken to evaluate early and mid-term results in infants, weighing less than 2500 g, who underwent surgery other than patent ductus arteriosus closure.


Since January 1993 to August 2002, 60 consecutive patients underwent early surgical treatment of congenital heart malformations at our institution. 27 patients were premature (born before 37 weeks of gestation). Ninety percent were severely symptomatic. Mean age at operation was 15.5 days (range 4-68 days). Mean weight was 2120 g (range 900-2500 g). Indications for surgery were: coarctation complex 11, transposition of great arteries 9, interrupted or severely hypoplastic aortic arch 9, hypoplastic left heart syndrome 7, truncus arteriosus 5, other 19. Thirty-five patients were operated on CPB, Deep Hypothermia with Circulatory Arrest was used in 9. Complete repair was achieved in 32 patients. Aortic arch reconstruction was required in 32 cases.


There were nine early deaths (15%): heart failure (5), multiorgan failure (3), sepsis (1). Age, weight, prematurity, type of surgery and use of cardio pulmonary by-pass did not influence early mortality. Mean intensive care unit stay and duration of mechanical ventilation were 5.8 days and 75.5 h, respectively. Postoperative neurological complications did not occur in any patient. At follow-up (mean 48 months) there were nine late deaths. Kaplan-Meier survival at 60 months was 70%.


Surgery for congenital heart disease can be performed in low weight critically ill infants with reduced, but still acceptable early and mid-term survival.

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