Predictors and outcomes of heart block during surgical stage I palliation of patients with a single ventricle: A report from the NPC-QIC

Heart Rhythm. 2021 Nov;18(11):1876-1883. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2021.05.019. Epub 2021 May 21.


Background: Mortality in cohorts with a single ventricle remains high with multiple associated factors. The effect of heart block during stage I palliation remains unclear.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to study patient and surgical risks of heart block and its effect on 12-month transplant-free survival in patients with a single ventricle.

Methods: Patient, surgical, outcome data and heart block status (transient and permanent) were obtained from the National Pediatric Cardiology Quality Improvement Collaborative single ventricle database. Bivariate analysis was performed comparing patients with and without heart block, and multivariate modeling was used to identify variables associated with block. One-year outcomes were analyzed to identify variables associated with lower 12-month transplant-free survival.

Results: In total, 1423 patients were identified, of whom 28 (2%) developed heart block (second degree or complete) during their surgical admission. Associated risk factors for block included heterotaxy syndrome (odds ratio [OR] 6.4) and atrial flutter/fibrillation (OR 3.8). Patients with heart block had lower 12-month survival, though only in patients with complete heart block as opposed to second degree block. At 12 months of age, 43% (12/28) of patients with heart block died and were more likely to experience mortality at 12 months than patients without block (OR 4.9; 95% confidence interval 1.4-17.5; P = .01).

Conclusion: Although rare, complete heart block after stage I palliation represents an additional risk of poor outcomes in this high-risk patient population. Heterotaxy syndrome was the most significant risk factor for the development of heart block after stage I palliation. The role of transient block in outcomes and potential rescue with long-term pacing remains unknown and requires additional study.

Keywords: Heart block; Hypoplastic left heart syndrome; Pediatric cardiology; Stage I palliation; Survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Heart Block / etiology*
  • Heart Ventricles / abnormalities*
  • Heart Ventricles / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Palliative Care*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors