Education of Children With Cyanotic Congenital Heart Disease After Neonatal Cardiac Surgery

Ann Thorac Surg. 2021 Nov;112(5):1546-1552. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2020.07.072. Epub 2020 Oct 16.


Background: The aim of the study was to evaluate the educational achievement of patients diagnosed with univentricular heart physiology (UVHP) or transposition of the great arteries (TGA) after neonatal cardiac surgery.

Methods: An exploratory online survey was performed with patients registered with the National Register for Congenital Heart Defects in Germany. For this publication, a subgroup analysis was conducted among patients diagnosed with TGA (n = 173; 36.3%) and UVHP (n = 304; 63.7%).

Results: Median age of the sample at school enrollment was 6 years (range, 5-8 years). The majority were enrolled at a standard elementary school (n = 368 of 477; 77.1%), although patients with UVHP were enrolled significantly more often at a special needs school (n = 52 of 304; 17.1%, TGA patients n = 11/ of 173; 6.4%, P < .001). A total of 45.8% (n = 66 of 144) of the patients graduated with a high school diploma. A substantial number of patients had been diagnosed with behavioral or learning disorders (TGA patients n = 63 of 173 [36.4%], UVHP patients n = 148 of 304 [48.7%]) and received early supportive therapy or remedial teaching before (TGA patients n = 89 of 173 [51.4%], UVHP patients n = 209 of 304 [68.8%]) and/or during their school careers (TGA patients n = 54 of 173 [31.2%], UVHP patients n = 120 of 304 [39.5%]).

Conclusions: A large proportion of patients who underwent neonatal cardiac surgery graduated with a high school diploma. These results are of great importance to congenital heart defect patients, affected families, and treating physicians. Nevertheless, study participants, especially patients with UVHP, face some academic challenges. We conclude that long-term follow-up examinations and regular developmental assessments may be beneficial.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cyanosis / etiology
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Transposition of Great Vessels / surgery*
  • Univentricular Heart / surgery*