End-stage heart failure (HF) frequently needs continuous inotropic support in hospital and has high morbidity and mortality in absence of heart transplantation. This study reports outcome, efficacy, and safety of continuous ambulatory inotropes (AI) and/or periodic levosimendan (LS) infusions in pediatric HF patients. The study included 27 patients, median age 9.4 (0.1-26.1) years, with severe HF (6 myocarditis, 13 dilated cardiomyopathy, 2 restrictive cardiomyopathy, 6 repaired congenital heart disease). Dobutamine and milrinone AI were administered in 21 patients through a permanent central catheter for median duration 1.0 (0.3-3.7) years. Additionally, 14 AI patients and the remaining 6 study patients received periodic LS infusions for median duration 1.1 (0.2-4.2) years. During median follow-up 2.1 (0.3-21.3) years, 4 patients died of worsening HF after 0.8-2.1 years AI, 6 patients underwent heart transplantation with only 3 survivors, while the rest remained stable out of the hospital with complications 4 line infections treated with antibiotics and 4 catheter reinsertions due to dislodgement. Severe pulmonary hypertension was reversed with AI in 2 patients, allowing successful heart-only transplantation. Therapy with AI was discontinued after 1.4-0.4 years in 6 improved myocarditis and 3 cardiomyopathy patients without deterioration. In conclusion, prolonged AI and/or LS infusions in HF are safe and beneficial even in small infants, allowing stabilization and reasonable social and family life out of the hospital. It may provide precious time for heart transplantation or myocardial remodeling, improvement, and possible discontinuation even after long periods of support.
Keywords: End-stage heart failure; Heart transplantation; Inotropes; Safety.