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Right submammary minithoracotomy for repair of congenital heart defects.

OBJECTIVE: The initial experience with the right submammary minithoracotomy incision for correction of intracardiac congenital defects is reported.

METHODS: Between March 1997 and March 1999, 100 children underwent repair of congenital heart disease through this approach. Their mean age and weight were 4.6 years and 20 kg, respectively. Diagnosis included: atrial septal defect (78), ventricular septal defect (7), tetralogy of Fallot (6), partial atrioventricular canal (5), double-chambered right ventricle (3) and single ventricle with dextrocardia (1). The standard technique entailed a 5 to 6 cm right submammary incision, entering the chest through the third or fourth intercostal space (depending on the body weight), direct aortic and bicaval cannulation and aortic cross-clamping with cardioplegic protection.

RESULTS: There were no hospital deaths. Postoperative morbidity included bleeding in two cases, recurrent atrial septal defect in one, spleen injury in one. The average hospital stay was 3.5 days. All patient are currently free of symptoms and medications.

CONCLUSIONS: (1) This approach for repair of selected congenital cardiac malformations is technically feasible, safe and effective; (2) younger age is a facilitating factor; (3) hospital stays are effectively reduced.

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