OBJECTIVE--To assess the possibility of maintaining ductal patency in neonates with complex pulmonary atresia by percutaneous implantation of balloon expandable stents. PATIENTS--Two duct-dependent neonates with long segment pulmonary atresia, right sided aortic arch, and left sided arterial duct. RESULTS--Stents with final diameter of 3.5 or 4 mm and initial length of 7 or 15 mm were successfully positioned in the arterial duct. Two stents were required in one child and four in the other in order to stent the entire length of the duct. After the procedures the ducts remained widely patent and arterial oxygen saturations remained above 80%. Complications of the procedures included perforation of a peripheral pulmonary artery and cardiac perforation, both caused by guide wire manipulation. Both babies died suddenly, one at five weeks, and the other at nine days after successful stenting of the duct. Both ducts were patent at necropsy; the exact cause of one death was not clearly defined, but the second seemed to be caused by pneumococcal septicaemia. CONCLUSIONS--Stenting of the arterial duct is technically feasible. It provides adequate palliation for neonates with pulmonary atresia at least in the short term and it seems to result in balanced, central perfusion of both pulmonary arteries. This preliminary report suggests that this previously untried technique may prove to be a promising and attractive alternative to neonatal aortopulmonary shunt operation.
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