Pulmonary hypertension after operations for congenital heart disease: analysis of risk factors and management

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1996 Dec;112(6):1600-7; discussion 1607-9. doi: 10.1016/S0022-5223(96)70019-3.


Background: Management of pulmonary hypertension, a potentially fatal complication of operations to correct congenital heart disease, has evolved through the last 15 years. Monitoring of pulmonary arterial pressure and mixed venous saturation became available, and prophylactic use of alpha-blockers and other vasodilators increased. This study examines risk factors for morbidity and mortality from pulmonary hypertension after operations to correct congenital heart disease and evaluates the impact of management changes on outcomes.

Methods: By means of multivariable logistic regression analysis, 880 high-risk patients with congenital heart disease (of 2484 patients undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass between January 1980 and December 1994) were analyzed to determine which were at risk for postoperative pulmonary hypertension and its associated morbidity and mortality.

Results: Patients with atrioventricular canal (n = 182), truncus arteriosus (n = 47), total anomalous pulmonary venous connection (n = 90), transposition of great arteries (n = 97), hypoplastic left heart syndrome (n = 50), and ventricular septal defect (n = 414) demonstrated a higher risk of postoperative pulmonary hypertension. By multivariable logistic regression, preoperative pulmonary hypertension (p < 0.0001), absence of mixed venous saturation monitoring (p < 0.0001), and absence of prophylactic alpha-blockade (p = 0.0004) significantly increased postoperative pulmonary hypertension. Preoperative pulmonary hypertension (p < 0.001) and absence of prophylactic alpha-blockers (p = 0.0004) were significant risk factors for in-hospital death related to pulmonary hypertension. Repair at older age (except in the case of total anomalous pulmonary venous connection) was a significant risk for postoperative pulmonary hypertension (p = 0.03).

Conclusion: Mixed venous saturation monitoring and alpha-receptor blockade reduced the incidence of pulmonary hypertension after operations for congenital heart disease. Early definitive repair reduced morbidity and mortality from postoperative pulmonary hypertension.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery*
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / etiology*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / mortality
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / prevention & control
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / therapy*
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors