Background: Controversy continues to surround determining which is the most beneficial method of complete atrioventricular septal defect repair, eg, one- versus two-patch repair, closure of mitral cleft, and the necessity of annuloplasty.
Methods: Between January 1988 and November 1995, 120 patients with complete atrioventricular septal defect underwent total correction at the German Heart Institute Berlin. Sixty-nine of the patients were infants and 51 were children or adolescents. Eleven patients had previously undergone pulmonary artery banding. One hundred three patients had Down's syndrome. In all 120 patients complete atrioventricular septal defect repair was performed using the two-patch technique. The mitral cleft was closed with interrupted sutures in 119 cases.
Results: Thirty-four patients required aggressive treatment of postoperative pulmonary hypertensive crises (including nitric oxide inhalation). There were 12 hospital deaths (10%). Mortality was highest in patients with persistently high postoperative pulmonary arterial pressure (pulmonary artery pressure/systemic artery pressure > 0.6) (7 of 17 patients died; 41%). Associated atrioventricular valve anomalies, especially dysplastic valve tissue and severe preoperative cardiopulmonary instability necessitating catecholamine support and artificial ventilation, represented other risk factors. There were six late deaths (5%); cumulative mortality was 15%. Four patients suffered a complete heart block and sick sinus node syndrome necessitating pacemaker implantation 1 to 6 months after operation. During the follow-up period (3 to 80 months after operation), 7 patients (6.8% of survivors) were successfully reoperated on after significant mitral valve incompetence due to an open "cleft" (suture failure) developed.
Conclusions: Correcting complete atrioventricular septal defect using the two-patch technique, routine cleft closure, and atrial septal incision led to a low incidence of residual mitral valve incompetence. Mortality was primarily influenced by severe cardiopulmonary instability and additional atrioventricular valve anomalies preoperatively and the persistence of high pulmonary arterial hypertension postoperatively.