OBJECTIVE: Myocardial injury is an important cause of mortality and morbidity after paediatric cardiac surgery. Data obtained from studies in animals imply that juvenile myocardium is more resistant to the effects of ischaemia and reperfusion than adult myocardium but there is little confirmatory evidence in the clinical setting. DESIGN: Prospective observational study of biochemical markers of myocardial injury in a paediatric population undergoing cardiac surgery. SETTING: Tertiary referral centre for paediatric cardiac surgery. PATIENTS: Forty patients undergoing paediatric cardiac surgery of varying complexity including closure of atrial and ventricular septal defects and arterial switch for simple transposition. A control group included patients undergoing thoracotomy for closure of a patent ductus arteriosus or repair of a coarctation. INTERVENTIONS: Serial measurements of myoglobin, the MB isoenzyme of creatine kinase (CK-MB), and the highly specific markers of myocardial damage cardiac troponin T (cTnT) and I (cTnI) were made before and 1, 6, 24, and 48 to 72 hours after operation. RESULTS: There were significant increases in myoglobin and CK-MB, but not cTnT or cTnI, in the control group. There were significant increases in the four biochemical markers in all the cardiac operations but especially in the ventricular septal defect and transposition group. Increases in CK-MB and cTnT were about five times greater than those previously reported in adult patients. CONCLUSIONS: (i) Cardiac troponins are more specific markers of myocardial injury in paediatric cardiac surgery than myoglobin and CK-MB. (ii) Paediatric myocardium seems to be more vulnerable to injury during cardiac surgery than adult myocardium.
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