Objective: To study the perceptions of outcome and the diffusion into practice of innovative approaches such as palliative surgery and heart transplantation to treat hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
Design: A forced-choice questionnaire was sent to 108 US neonatology section heads. Responses were analyzed using Wilcoxon matched pairs, chi 2 analysis, and multivariant logistic regression.
Results: Ninety-three questionnaires (86%) were returned. All respondents discussed palliative surgery or transplantation or both with parents; 71 (76%) of 93 also discussed comfort care. Nineteen (24%) of 80 recommended comfort care only, 51 (64%) of 80 recommended surgery only, and 10 (12%) of 80 recommended both. Of the 61 respondents recommending one or both surgical procedures, palliative surgery was recommended by 44 and transplantation by 33. Respondents perceived that transplantation was associated with a lower 1-year mortality than palliative surgery (P < .001) and with a better quality of life (P < .001).
Conclusions: Palliative surgery and transplantation are widely used to treat hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The continued availability of comfort care suggests that these surgical procedures are still in transition from experimental technology to standard of care.