Health-related quality of life in paediatric patients with congenital heart defects: association with the type of heart defect and the surgical technique

A Heusch, H J Kahl, K O Hensel, G Calaminus
Quality of Life Research 2017, 26 (11): 3111-3117

The aim of the study was to investigate the impact of a number of surgical interventions for a various congenital cardiac defects (CHDs) on self-reported HRQoL.

METHODS: Patients who had received corrective surgery of several congenital heart defects (surgical VSD closure, Fallot, TGA after atrial or arterial switch or Fontan-type circulation for univentricular AV-connection) were interviewed in the office of their home peadiatric cardiologist. HRQoL in children along 7 dimensions was assessed using a standardised questionnaire (PEDQoL); information on the medical case history of each respondent was also collected.

STATISTICS: HRQoL was assessed in the questionnaire by asking about the frequency (never, rarely, often, always) of specific negative experiences; more frequent experiences indicate a lower quality of life. Frequency expressions were transformed into numerical values (25, 50, 75, 100%), and mean values for HRQoL were calculated for each patient and for each domain. Differences in HRQoL among patients with different types of interventions were analysed using the Mann-Whitney Test or the Kruskal-Wallis Test as appropriate; p values <0.05 were considered to indicate significant differences, while p values <0.1 were considered to indicate notable trends.

RESULTS: Patients: 169 patients (60% male, 40% female) were part of the study. The mean age was 11.6 years; 50 patients had surgical VSD closure, 52 surgeries for Tetralogy of Fallot (22 transannular patch, 18 no transannular patch, 12 inaccurate description), 40 had complete transposition of the great arteries (28 atrial switch, 12 arterial switch), 22 had a Fontan-type procedure for univentricular AV-connection. HRQoL differed little among patients with different CHDs for the items "relation to friends," "interactions in the affected families", and "own body image". For other items, notable differences emerged: patients with univentricular hearts rated their physical capacity worse and showed a tendency towards negative ratings in other domains. On the other hand, patients after Fallot or TGA correction tended to rate their HRQoL in several domains as relatively high. Focusing on the mode of surgery for Fallot repair, respectively, TGA correction the only significant difference was found for "physical capacity" in TGA (atrial vs. arterial repair). Mustard patients tended to rate most items worse. Physical capacity was rated worst by patients with a Fontan circulation. Repeated surgery led to lower ratings for all domains except "physical capacity" and "body image".

CONCLUSIONS: Different surgical techniques for CHD do not affect children's and adolescents' self-reported HRQoL to the extent that one would expect. This observation is in line with observations in groups of children with different chronic diseases. Specialised psychosocial support is necessary in order to maintain this positive self-evaluation and to ensure patients are able to lead autonomous personal and professional lives.

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