Neurocognitive Consequences of Surgically Corrected Congenital Heart Defects: A Review

Neuropsychol Rev. 2006 Jun;16(2):65-85. doi: 10.1007/s11065-006-9005-7. Epub 2006 Sep 8.


With advances in surgical procedures, neuropsychological assessment after congenital heart defects and pre, peri- and/or postoperative predictors of adverse outcome has become an important focus in research. We aim to summarize neuropsychological sequelae associated with different types of congenital heart defects, critically review the methodology used in more than 20 empirical studies that were retrieved from biomedical electronic search engines, and identify possible directions for future research. Despite the lack of adequate control groups and long-term studies, there seem to be some cognitive deficits. The largest group of children with isolated congenital heart defects present with normal intellectual capacities. However, they tend to show language deficits and motor dysfunction. Although performances on memory tasks are good, unambiguous conclusions concerning their attentional and executive functioning are still lacking. Serious behavioral problems are not an issue. In addition to a detailed description of the (neuro) psychological consequences of pediatric cardiac surgery, an overview of the predictors of the cognitive defects is provided.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Damage, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Adjustment