The purpose of this study was to compare contemporary results of balloon dilatation and surgery for valvar aortic stenosis in infants and children in the five years between August 1988 and October 1993. Thirty four children underwent attempted balloon valvuloplasty (age 1 day-16 years, weight 1720 g-68 kg) (group 1), eight of whom were neonates with critical aortic stenosis. During the same period, 17 children underwent direct surgical valvotomy (group 2) (seven neonates). Successful balloon valvuloplasty was achieved in 33 (97%) with immediate reduction in the instantaneous systolic pressure gradient from 82 to 34 mm Hg (mean). There were two deaths in this group (both neonates), the second in a preterm neonate from necrotising enterocolitis. Complications requiring intervention in group 1 were aortic regurgitation in one and femoral artery injury in two. Follow up from four months to five years showed sustained results in most cases. There were two neonatal deaths in the surgical group. When the two groups were compared there was no significant difference in mortality, morbidity, or need for reintervention within 12 months. Deaths from both groups were attributed to small left ventricles. Hospital stay was significantly shorter in group 1. It is concluded that balloon dilatation for valvar aortic stenosis is effective and safe for the entire paediatric population. The results compare favourably with those of surgery.
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