Early discontinuation of intravenous prostaglandin E1 after balloon atrial septostomy is associated with an increased risk of rebound hypoxemia

J Perinatol. 2008 May;28(5):341-6. doi: 10.1038/jp.2008.11. Epub 2008 Mar 13.


Objective: A comparison of the effects of early (<2 h) and late (>or=2 h) discontinuation of prostaglandin E1 (PGE1), on systemic oxygenation following a successful balloon atrial septostomy (BAS), in neonates with confirmed diagnosis of d-transposition of the great arteries (d-TGA).

Study design: Neonates with a postnatal diagnosis of d-TGA who were admitted to a quaternary neonatal intensive care unit between January 1999 and December 2004 were identified from the local database. The effects of time of discontinuation of PGE1 on oxygen saturations, oxygen requirement, need for reinstitution of prostaglandin infusion and postoperative stability were analyzed.

Result: Sixty neonates with a diagnosis of d-TGA were identified, 45 of whom had a BAS performed. Of these, 25 cases had early (<2 h) discontinuation of PGE1 whereas in the remaining 20 discontinuation was late (>or=2 h). PGE1 infusion was recommenced in 20 neonates (20/45 (44%)) after a successful BAS due to rebound hypoxemia. Of these, there was a threefold increase in the need for reinstitution of prostaglandin in the early compared to late discontinuation group (16/25 (64%) vs 4/20 (20%), P<0.006). There was no difference in postoperative cardiorespiratory stability.

Conclusion: Early discontinuation of intravenous PGE1 following BAS was associated with an increased risk of rebound hypoxemia, necessitating the recommencement of PGE1. We speculate the rapid improvement in oxygenation on reinstitution of PGE1 is secondary to pulmonary vasodilation and improved pulmonary blood flow. We propose a more cautious and graded approach to discontinuation of PGE1 based on illness severity and the magnitude and duration of hypoxemia at presentation.

MeSH terms

  • Alprostadil / administration & dosage*
  • Catheterization*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Echocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Atria / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Atria / surgery*
  • Heart Septum / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Septum / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / blood
  • Hypoxia / diagnostic imaging
  • Hypoxia / surgery*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Male
  • Ontario
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Prognosis
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transposition of Great Vessels / blood
  • Transposition of Great Vessels / diagnostic imaging
  • Transposition of Great Vessels / therapy*


  • Alprostadil
  • Oxygen