Background: From 1994 to 2005, the Pediatric Perioperative Cardiac Arrest Registry collected data on 373 anesthesia-related cardiac arrests (CAs) in children, 34% of whom had congenital or acquired heart disease (HD).
Methods: Nearly 80 North American institutions that provide anesthesia for children voluntarily enrolled in the Pediatric Perioperative Cardiac Arrest Registry. A standardized data form for each perioperative CA in children 18 years old or younger was submitted anonymously. We analyzed causes of and outcomes from anesthesia-related CA in children with and without HD.
Results: Compared with the 245 children without HD, the 127 children with HD who arrested were sicker (92% vs 62% ASA physical status III-V; P < 0.01) and more likely to arrest from cardiovascular causes (50% vs 38%; P = 0.03), although often the exact cardiovascular cause of arrest could not be determined. Mortality was higher in patients with HD (33%) than those without HD (23%, P = 0.048) but did not differ when adjusted for ASA physical status classification. More than half (54%) of the CA in patients with HD were reported from the general operating room compared with 26% from the cardiac operating room and 17% from the catheterization laboratory. The most common category of HD lesion in patients suffering CA was single ventricle (n = 24). At the time of CA, most patients with congenital HD were either unrepaired (59%) or palliated (26%). Arrests in patients with aortic stenosis and cardiomyopathy were associated with the highest mortality rates (62% and 50%, respectively), although statistical comparison was precluded by small sample size for some HD lesions.
Conclusions: Children with HD were sicker compared with those without HD at the time of anesthesia-related CA and had a higher mortality after arrest. These arrests were reported most frequently from the general operating room and were likely to be from cardiovascular causes. The identification of causes of and factors relating to anesthesia-related CA suggests possible strategies for prevention.