Background: Ventricular septal defect (VSD) represents a serious complication after acute myocardial infarction (AMI) with an incidence of 1-2%. Surgical treatment is often mandatory in the early period after AMI because of the worsening of the hemodynamic and clinical conditions.
Methods: We reviewed 34 patients complicating AMI who underwent surgical treatment at our Institution from January 1988 to December 1994 (23 males, 11 females, mean age 64.2+/-7.96, range 45-78). The localization of the AMI was anterior in 47.05% but inferior in 52.95% of the patients (p=NS). The mean time between AMI and VSD was 5.24+/-9.31 days. The preoperative NYHA functional class was III-IV in 93% of the patients. QP/QS ratio was 2.7+/-0.65 and the diameter of VSD ranged from 1 to 8 (mean 2.5+/-0.35). In 26 patients (76.4%) an intraortic balloon pump (IABP) was inserted before surgery. Surgical treatment was done after 10+/-17.7 days after VSD appearance through a left ventriculotomy. Ten patients received a concomitant myocardial revascularization.
Results: Overall surgical mortality was significantly higher (p<0.05) in patients operated on in the early period after AMI (1+/-1.4 days) and with VSD complicating an inferior AMI. A complete follow-up was possible in all the survivors with a cumulative FU of 1453 month/patients. Two patients received a redo procedure after 30 and 40 days after the first correction because of a residual shunt. We observed 3 late deaths for re-AMI and one for complications after bronchial pneumonia. The actuarial survival rate is 70% at 1 year, 68% at 2 years and 65% at 7 years. NYHA functional class after operation is 1-11 in 91% of the patients.
Conclusions: The major determinant of hospital survival in VSD after AMI in our patient population was the anatomical localization and the early timing of the operation. We believe that a prompt diagnosis and immediate cardiac support (IABP or ventricular assist device) is recommended to obtain a hemodynamic stabilization and to achieve the shaping of stronger cicatricial tissue before surgery. Nevertheless surgical repair of VSD is mandatory when clinical and hemodynamic condition becomes unacceptable. The results in the long term assessment are very satisfying.