Percutaneous balloon dilatation was attempted in 15 consecutive neonates (mean age 7.3 (range 1-27) days and weight 3.2 (range 2.5-4.1) kg) with critical stenosis of the pulmonary valve. Dilatation was successful in 11 (73%) patients. The mean balloon to annulus ratio was 1.1 (range 0.6-1.77). The ratio of right ventricle to femoral artery systolic pressure decreased from a mean (1 SD) of 1.4 (0.32) before to 0.8 (0.24) after dilatation and the transvalvar gradient decreased from 81 (29.7) mm Hg before to 33 (27.7) mm Hg after dilatation. All four (27%) patients in whom dilatation was unsuccessful underwent surgical valvotomy. Complications of balloon dilatation occurred in three (20%) patients; these included retroperitoneal haematoma (one) and iliofemoral venous occlusion (two). In one (7%) patient severe hypoxia and hypotension developed when the valve was crossed with a guide wire and balloon catheter. Despite successful dilatation he died 7 days after the procedure. During a mean (1 SD) follow up of 2 (1.7) years, seven (64%) of the 11 patients remained free of important restenosis. One patient required repeat dilatation three weeks after the initial procedure. In three (27%) patients restenosis developed 4-9 months after dilatation and all three had surgical valvotomy. Of the four patients initially referred for surgery three required a second operation and one required balloon dilatation. Percutaneous balloon dilatation gave effective relief of critical pulmonary stenosis in most neonates but complications and restenosis requiring surgery were common.
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