Should early extubation be the goal for children after congenital cardiac surgery?

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2014 Dec;148(6):2642-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2014.06.093. Epub 2014 Jul 30.


Objective: We sought to determine the feasibility and assess the clinical outcomes associated with an early extubation strategy for all children undergoing congenital heart surgery, including neonates (age, <30 days).

Methods: We performed a linked database analysis of all patients undergoing congenital heart surgery from July 1, 2010 to December 31, 2012. We collected data on the cardiac diagnoses, preoperative status, procedure, and postoperative course, including the duration of invasive and noninvasive ventilation, failure of extubation, hemodynamic data, length of stay, complications, and mortality. A multivariable model was used to assess the independent factors associated with an inability to extubate within the operating room and with delayed extubation (>24 hours).

Results: We operated on 613 children, including 97 neonates. Intraoperative extubation was achieved in 71% of the cases and early extubation (≤ 24 hours) was achieved in 89% of the cases. The overall mortality was 1.5% (9 of 613 patients). Early extubation was associated with lower mortality (1% vs 9%, P < .001) and a lower rate of reintubation (4% vs 23%, P < .001) compared with delayed extubation. Notably, 63% of the neonates were extubated within 24 hours, including 67% of arterial switch operations and 54% of total anomalous pulmonary venous return repairs. Norwood operations were the only procedure in which no patient was extubated within the first 24 hours. Multivariable logistic regression demonstrated that the predictors of delayed extubation included preoperative mechanical ventilation, weight < 5 kg, a longer procedure time, and the need for postoperative inotrope support. Implementation of an early extubation strategy was associated with low rates of complications (5.1 per 10 procedures), short lengths of intensive care unit stay (median, 1 day; interquartile range, 1-3), and short hospital stays (median, 4 days; interquartile range, 3-6).

Conclusions: Most children undergoing congenital heart surgery can be extubated in the operating room. Most neonates, including many undergoing complex procedures, can be extubated within the first 24 hours after surgery. Early extubation was associated with low morbidity rates and short lengths of intensive care unit and hospital stays.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Airway Extubation* / adverse effects
  • Airway Extubation* / mortality
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures* / mortality
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnosis
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / mortality
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Length of Stay
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome