Preoperative pulmonary hemodynamics and assessment of operability: is there a pulmonary vascular resistance that precludes cardiac operation?

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2010 Mar;11(2 Suppl):S57-69. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0b013e3181d10cce.


Preoperative pulmonary vascular disease remains an important risk factor for death or right-heart failure in selected children undergoing two-ventricle repair, single-ventricle palliation, or heart transplantation. Preoperative criteria for poor outcome after operation remain unclear. The purpose of this review is to critically assess both the historic and current data and make recommendations where appropriate. An extensive literature search was undertaken in October 2009. Data were analyzed by an expert multidisciplinary team and recommendations were made by consensus. PubMed was searched in October 2009. Data were analyzed and recommendations were made by consensus of a multidisciplinary team. In patients with suspected pulmonary vascular disease anticipating a two-ventricle repair, although preoperative testing via cardiac catheterization with vasodilators is reasonable, the preoperative parameters and the precise values of these parameters that best correlate with early and late outcome remain unclear. Further investigation is warranted in selected populations, such as the growing group of children with congenital heart disease complicated by chronic lung disease of prematurity, and in the developing world where patients may be more likely to present late with advanced pulmonary vascular disease. In patients with a functional single ventricle, there is growing evidence that mean pulmonary artery pressure of >15 mm Hg may be associated with both early and late mortality after the Fontan operation. The relationship of preoperative pulmonary hemodynamics to early and late morbidity remains to be defined. There most likely is a level of preoperative pulmonary vascular disease that puts an individual patient at increased risk for death or severe cyanosis after a bidirectional cavopulmonary anastomosis. It remains unclear, however, how to best assess this risk preoperatively. The limitations in obtaining an accurate assessment of pulmonary vascular disease in the complex single ventricle are discussed. In children awaiting cardiac transplantation with elevated pulmonary vascular disease of >6 U.m and/or transpulmonary gradient of >15 mm Hg, heart transplantation is deemed feasible in most transplant centers if the administration of inotropes or vasodilators can decrease the pulmonary vascular disease to <6 U.m or transpulmonary gradient to <15 mm Hg. In patients with preoperative pulmonary vascular disease, there may be contributing factors to the pulmonary vascular disease, such as the specifics of the cardiac lesion (atrioventricular valve regurgitation, low cardiac output), parenchymal and/or airway issues, and/or individual genetic predisposition. Amelioration of any reversible factors before operation and optimization of their management in the preoperative and postoperative period are recommended.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / mortality*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / mortality
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery*
  • Heart Transplantation / mortality
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / complications
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / mortality*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / physiopathology*
  • Infant
  • Lung Diseases / complications
  • Lung Diseases / congenital
  • Lung Diseases / mortality
  • Lung Diseases / surgery
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Vascular Resistance / physiology*