Objectives: We sought to assess the ability of two-dimensional and Doppler echocardiography alone, without cardiac catheterization, to evaluate infants < 1 year of age for complete open heart repair of complete balanced atrioventricular (AV) septal defect.
Background: Two-dimensional echocardiographic-Doppler examinations provide accurate anatomic detail in patients with AV septal defect. Lung biopsy data have shown that patients rarely develop significant inoperable pulmonary vascular disease before 7 months of age. Although calculated pulmonary arteriolar resistance is often elevated in young infants with this heart defect, this elevation rarely reflects significant pulmonary vascular changes in infants < 7 to 12 months of age.
Methods: We performed a retrospective review of 34 patients who underwent complete repair of AV septal defect at our institution between January 1, 1988 and September 1, 1992. Some patients had both catheterization and echocardiographic-Doppler studies (group I, n = 16); others had only echocardiographic-Doppler studies (group II, n = 18).
Results: The groups were comparable with regard to age at echocardiography and operation, days in the hospital, days with ventilatory and inotropic support and occurrence of postoperative pulmonary hypertension. One child (2.9%) died during the early postoperative period, and one child in each group (5.8%) died within the 1st year of life. Preoperative echocardiography allowed better detailing of anatomy, valve commitment and regurgitation than was possible with catheterization alone. Knowledge of preoperative pulmonary resistance did not alter the surgical decision or predict postoperative pulmonary hypertension. There was no apparent difference in mortality between the two groups (0 vs. 5.5%), but the small number of patients in each group provides for a very low power (beta = 0.04) calculation. This mortality rate is not different from that reported in recent studies.
Conclusions: Patients with AV septal defect can safely undergo surgical correction of this defect on the basis of echocardiographic-Doppler data alone.