News | March 20, 2009

Congenital Heart Surgery Can be Performed in Adults With Reasonable Morbidity, Mortality

March 20 ,2009 - One of the current controversies in the field of adult congenital heart disease is whether patients should be cared for at an adult or pediatric facility and by an adult or pediatric heart surgeon, and a new study published in the March issue of the Annals of Thoracic Surgery evaluates this issue.

After transitioning its program from the children's hospital to the adult hospital, physicians in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta analyzed its experience with each system. They found congenital heart surgery can be performed in adults with reasonable morbidity and mortality. Caring for an anticipated aging adult congenital population with increasingly numerous coexisting medical problems and risk factors is best facilitated in an adult hospital setting. Also, when surgery becomes necessary, these adult patients are best served by a congenital heart surgeon.

In the study between 2000 and 2007, 303 operations were performed on adults (age >or= 18 years) with congenital heart disease. Of these, 185 operations were performed in an adult hospital and 118 in a pediatric hospital. Forty-six operations were performed by an adult heart surgeon and 257 by a congenital heart surgeon.

Researchers found mean age, coexisting medical problems, and preoperative risk factors were higher in both the adult hospital group and adult surgeon group compared with the respective pediatric groups. Mortality was similar at the adult and pediatric hospitals (4.3 percent versus 5.1 percent), but was markedly higher in the adult surgeon group compared with the pediatric surgeon group (15.2 versus 2.7 percent). By multivariate analysis, risk factors for mortality included older age at the time of surgery, surgery performed at a children's hospital, and surgery performed by an adult heart surgeon.

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