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Role of orthotopic heart transplantation in the management of patients with recurrent ventricular tachyarrhythmias following myocardial infarction


Objective To report the outcome of an intention to treat by heart transplantation strategy in two groups of patients after infarction, one with both left ventricular failure (LVF) and ventricular tachyarrhythmias (VTA) (group A) and the other with progressive LVF following antiarrhythmic surgery for VTA (group B).

Patients and methods Group A comprised 17 consecutive patients for whom transplantation was considered the best primary non-pharmacological treatment; group B comprised five consecutive patients assessed and planned for transplantation after antiarrhythmic surgery.

Results In group A, eight patients underwent transplantation and all survived the first 30 day period. At median follow up of 55 months (range 11 to 109) seven of this subgroup were still alive. Five patients died of recurrent VTA before transplantation, despite circulatory support. In the face of uncontrollable VTA, four of these underwent “high risk” antiarrhythmic surgery while awaiting transplantation: three died of LVF within 30 days and one was saved by heart transplantation two days after arrhythmia surgery. Mortality for the transplantation strategy in group A patients was 47% by intention to treat analysis. Quality of life in the eight actually transplanted, however, was good and only one died during median follow up of 56 months. The five patients in group B were accepted for transplantation for progressive LVF at a median of 21 months (range 12 to 28) after antiarrhythmic surgery. One died of LVF before transplantation, 22 months after initial surgery; another died of high output LVF three days after transplantation. Thus mortality of the intended strategy was 40%. The three transplanted patients are alive and well at 8–86 months.

Conclusions Although the short and medium term outcome in category A or B patients who undergo transplantation is good, the overall success of the transplantation strategy in category A patients is limited by lack of donors in the short time frame in which they are required.

  • heart transplantation
  • ventricular arrhythmias
  • myocardial infarction

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