Background: Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is a lethal malformation. For the last 10 years, orthotopic cardiac transplantation has been our preferred treatment for infants with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
Methods: One hundred seventy-six infants with hypoplastic left heart syndrome were entered into a cardiac transplant protocol between November 1985 and November 1995. Interventional procedures to stent the ductus arteriosus or enlarge the interatrial communication were performed in 8 and 35 patients, respectively. Thirty-four patients (19%) died during the waiting period, and 142 infants underwent cardiac transplantation. Age at cardiac transplantation ranged from 1.5 hours to 6 months (median, 29 days). The majority of grafts were oversized, and the median graft ischemic time was 273 minutes (range, 60 to 576 minutes). The implantation procedure used a period of hypothermic circulatory arrest ranging from 23 to 110 minutes (median, 53 minutes). Repair of other significant defects included interrupted aortic arch and total or partial anomalous pulmonary venous connection.
Results: There were 13 early and 22 late deaths. Patient actuarial survival at 1 month and at 1, 5 and 7 years was 91%, 84%, 76%, and 70% respectively. Half of the late deaths were due to rejection. Severe graft vasculopathy was confirmed in 8 patients. Retransplantation was performed in 5 patients for graft vasculopathy 4 and rejection 1. Lymphoblastic leukemia developed in 1 patient 3 years after cardiac transplantation.
Conclusions: Cardiac transplantation can be performed in infants with hypoplastic left heart syndrome with good operative and intermediate-term results. Improved survival can be achieved with increased donor availability, better management of rejection, and control of graft vasculopathy.