|Year : 2003 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 5
Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery at Hamad Hospital 2000 - 2002
Department of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery, Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar
|Date of Web Publication||22-Jun-2010|
Hamad Hospital, P.O. Box 3050, Doha
|How to cite this article:|
McKay R. Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery at Hamad Hospital 2000 - 2002. Heart Views 2003;4:5
Surgery for congenital heart malformations began in Qatar nearly twenty years ago on the 11th of April, 1983.  Initially, this was carried out within the program for acquired heart disease and, for a brief subsequent interval, by visiting specialists from abroad. Since October 2000, there has been the continuous presence of a full-time team dedicated to the care of patients with congenitally malformed hearts. Herein, we review the surgical activity of the past two years and compare it with that of the first ten years, as reported to the GCC Cardiovascular Conference by Dr. Amer Chaikhouni in January 2002. 
Between 1 October 2000 and 30 September 2002, one hundred and fifty patients underwent operation at ages of less than one day to just under 17 years [Figure 1]. This represents an increase from about 30 patients per year to 75 cases annually, with a shift of the male: female ratio from 54:46 to 61:39 [Figure 2], in closer alignment with observed gender ratios for congenital heart malformations.  Fifty-eight (39%) were non-pump procedures, while 92 operations (61%) were done with cardiopulmonary bypass. During this time, adult congenital heart patients were managed by the general cardiothoracic surgical team and accordingly are not included in these figures, while a small number of neonates and infants underwent pulmonary procedures on the pediatric cardiac service. Although the proportion of patients older than one year of age remained constant at 50% there was, however, a considerable decrease in the average age at operation from 14.0 to 2.7 years, with more procedures done in the neonatal period.
Prior to 2000, most neonates and those patients who required complex procedures were sent abroad for cardiac surgery. With more of these cases being done in Doha, Qatari nationals increased to the largest group of patients (41%), compared with 22% between 1983 and 1993 [Figure 3]. Nine patients (6%) had genetic syndromes, six received a homograft prosthesis, nine were reoperations, and sixteen (10.6%) had intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography. This latter group ranged in weight from 5.3 Kg to 60 Kg at the time of surgery.
The most commonly performed procedures during the first ten years were closure of a persistently patent arterial duct (25%), closure of an atrial septal defect (23%), systemic-pulmonary shunt operations (17%), pulmonary artery banding (7%), and complete correction of Fallot's tetralogy (7%) [Figure 4]. By 2000, most atrial septal defects and patent arterial ducts were being closed with devices in the cardiac catheterization laboratory,  such that these conditions made up only 3% and 10%, respectively, of the more recent case load. The number of shunt procedures (9%) and pulmonary artery bandings (3%) also decreased as a reflection of the trend towards primary definitive repair in preference to preliminary palliation, while closure of isolated or multiple ventricular septal defects (10%) and repair of coarctation of the aorta (9%) were done more frequently.
The greatest increase, however, was among complex cardiac malformations, which accounted for nearly all of the procedures listed in the "other" category. There is not yet complete consensus regarding a system of risk stratification in congenital heart surgery, but it is nonetheless recognized generally that some procedures - especially complex lesions - and some patients make greater demands than others upon institutional resources and the skills of the surgical team. Using the complexity scores which have been provisionally suggested by the European Congenital Heart Surgeons Foundation,  and combining the "difficult" and "complex" categories into one group, 47% of all procedures undertaken between 2000 and 2002 were complex [Figure 5].
These included the arterial switch operation for simple and complex transposition of the great arteries, repair of totally anomalous pulmonary venous drainage, Fontan operations, repair of complete atrioventricular septal defect, and correction of complex pulmonary atresia.
Overall, there was no statistically significant difference in survival following either open or closed heart operations during the 1983-1993 era and the more recent 2000-2002 experience [Table 1]. However, for lesions, which correspond approximately to the case-mix of the first ten years, mortality among open-heart operations decreased notably from 13% to 0%. The results for most specific procedures also compare favorably with those reported from the Pediatric European Cardiothoracic Surgical Registry for 20015 [Table 2]. Viewed over time [Figure 6], there has possibly been some improvement in overall patient survival during recent months.
Academic activity is recognized as an important component of the surgical program, both for the advancement of clinical work and for continuing professional development. Surgical members of the team made a number of presentations and publications during the past two years, and the surgical program fostered research and teaching in related disciplines [Table 3].
| Comment|| |
Clinical services tend to reflect the circumstances in which they are provided as well as the patents whom they serve and the individuals who participate in their delivery. As a comparatively isolated, low volume institution without formal collaborative relationships with quaternary centers,  the challenges faced by the congenital heart surgical program have been considerable. While some Qatari nationals were able to access centers abroad for treatment, this option was not available to most expatriate patients who, in addition, often had limited or no possibility of reoperation or extensive follow-up after returning to their own countries. The general philosophy adopted by the surgical team was to offer operation to all patients who were referred for treatment, recognizing the increased risk of some procedures, and to try to employ techniques which would not commit the patient to anticoagulation or reoperation where this was not available. Thus, for example, Fontan operations were done with direct, extracardiac cavopulmonary connections  whenever possible, pedicled pericardial valved conduits  rather than homograft valves have been used for some right ventricle-to-pulmonary artery connections, and classical Blalock-Taussig shunts have been substituted for prosthetic grafts in patients thought to be at increased risk of shunt occlusion.
Recent reports from both North America  and the United Kingdom , have addressed various aspects congenital cardiac services and in particular the relationship between the volume of surgical procedures and outcomes. Elegant statistical analysis suggests that mortality in open heart surgery for patients less than one year of age is inversely related to the number of operations done in a given unit,  but, at the same time, recommendations for overall minimum volumes vary from 50 to 300 cases/year. While the results of this program are broadly in keeping with those achieved in busier units, there can be little doubt that a larger caseload would expedite the institutional learning curve, use resources more efficiently, and reduce surgical risk. Theoretically, each additional open-heart operation could decrease the odds of surgical death between 0.20% and 0.58%.  An increase from approximately 50 open-heart operations to 75 per year would potentially reduce surgical mortality by 10% to 15%, depending upon the specific types of procedures. A high priority is thus to achieve an annual caseload of about 100 congenital procedures per year.
The overall aspiration of the surgical program remains to provide a safe, sustainable and comprehensive service to all patients with congenital heart disease, through the acquisition and development of the relevant infrastructure as well as accumulation of expertise and experience by all members of the team. Continued turnover of personnel in a migratory work force from widely divergent backgrounds has made this a complicated mission, and it is likely that optimal stability of the program will be reached only as more permanent residents assume positions of responsibility and leadership. However, considerable progress has been made towards this goal, and this reflects enormous efforts on the part of many individuals and departments throughout the Hamad Medical Corporation. These are gratefully acknowledged.
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[Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6]
[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]