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Direct neonatal ventriculo-arterial connections (REV): early results and future implications.

BACKGROUND: Is the time-honored supposition correct that insertion of a competent prosthetic conduit or homograft is necessary to achieve right ventricular (RV) to pulmonary artery continuity in neonates? A direct ventriculo-arterial connection, or réparation à l'étage ventriculaire (REV), has been successfully used to achieve RV to pulmonary artery continuity in neonates without mortality or major morbidity. Acute RV function is preserved even in the face of free pulmonary insufficiency, but scrupulous preservation of pulmonary artery patency (unobstructed pathway) must be achieved.

METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed the cases of 6 neonates who underwent direct ventriculo-arterial connection to achieve RV to pulmonary artery continuity during open heart procedures in the last 3 years.

RESULTS: The 6 neonates had a mean age of 12.3 days (range, 2 days to 6 weeks) and a mean weight of 3.2 kg (range, 2.7 to 3.6 kg) at operation. Two of them had a diagnosis of aortic atresia + ventricular septal defect and successfully achieved an in-series circulation. Two had pulmonary atresia + ventricular septal defect and 2, double-outlet right ventricle + transposition of the great arteries + ventricular septal defect + pulmonary atresia. Follow-up is a mean of 16 months (range, 6 to 22 months). Surgical reintervention was required in 3 neonates and resulted in excellent hemodynamics in 2 of them. In the other patient, who had bilateral long-segment branch pulmonary artery hypoplasia, stents were placed without hemodynamic benefit. All children are currently alive with preserved RV function even in the presence of free pulmonary insufficiency.

CONCLUSIONS: Although the creation of a direct ventriculo-arterial connection has routinely been used for children older than 1 year with satisfactory initial results, its application in neonate is very limited. Why have neonates been denied this viable alternative? Perhaps the answer involves legitimate concerns about the consequent free pulmonary insufficiency and the presumed acute RV diastolic dysfunction.

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