Understanding Stage II Bidirectional Cavopulmonary Shunts

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Abstract

Despite improvements in surgical technique and medical management, single-ventricle lesions remain one of the most challenging congenital heart anomalies to treat, and mortality rates are high. Most infants who have single-ventricle palliation undergo a sequence of surgeries to optimize pulmonary and systemic blood flow. The first surgery to separate pulmonary and systemic blood flow is the bidirectional cavopulmonary shunt. This article describes single-ventricle lesions and gives a basic overview of outcomes and strategies to improve interstage mortality. Preoperative investigations that evaluate stage II candidacy are reviewed along with surgical approaches and postoperative physiology. Although mortality rates are low and decreasing in patients with bidirectional cavopulmonary shunts, morbidity is still a challenge. Nurses must understand the pertinent anatomy and physiology and recognize postoperative complications early in order to reduce morbidity. Postoperative complications, management, outcomes and nursing care are discussed. (Critical Care Nurse. 2017;37[6]:59-71)

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