Pediatric Orthotopic Heart Transplant
In pediatric patients with severe congenital heart disease and end-stage heart failure, cardiac transplant may be the only option. Especially in patients with a medical history of multiple open-heart surgeries, it is a technically demanding procedure and requires a well-trained team with experience in congenital heart disease (1). The first attempt of pediatric heart transplantation was made by Dr Adrian Kantrowitz in New York in 1967. Considerable progress has been made since that time in surgical technique as well as immunosuppressive treatment (1). The authors’ immunosuppression protocol starts with an induction therapy using corticosteroids after release of the aortic cross-clamp, followed by antithymocyte globulin combined with mycophenolate mofetil until initiation of tacrolimus.
The patient in the presented video is a 17-month-old infant boy of 8.4 kg suffering from cardiomyopathy, tricuspid valve dysplasia with severe regurgitation, mitral valve regurgitation, and recurrent supraventricular tachycardia. Initial surgical repair was performed at the age of two weeks including a tricuspid valvuloplasty, patent ductus arteriosus closure, and a right atrial reduction plasty. At the age of six months, the tricuspid valve required a second valvuloplasty in addition to a mitral valvuloplasty, left atrial reduction plasty, and a partial closure of the atrial septal defect.
- Cannulation technique
Cardiopulmonary bypass was commenced by cannulation of the distal ascending aorta as well as bicaval cannulation in the standard fashion.
- Explantation of the recipient’s heart
The aorta was cross-clamped and the superior vena cava was cut through, followed by the separation of the ascending aorta as well as the main pulmonary artery. In the next step, the inferior vena cava was separated from the right atrium. A generous cuff of atrial tissue was left on the caval vein.
- Inspection and preparation of the donor heart
The donor heart was inspected for any lesions or a patent foramen ovale. The aorta was separated from the pulmonary artery.
- Left atrial anastomosis
Implantation started with the left atrial anastomosis fashioned with a running suture. Therefore, the donor´s heart was placed on the assistant´s side with the apex pointing to the left downward side of the patient and the left atrium facing the surgeon.
- Pulmonary artery anastomosis
In the next step, the recipient’s main pulmonary artery was anastomosed end-to-end with the main pulmonary artery of the donor’s heart.
- Construction of the aortic connection and releasing the aortic cross-clamp
The ascending aorta was anastomosed in standard fashion, followed by the release of the aortic cross-clamp, and thereby ended the ischemia period of the donor´s heart.
- Construction of the systemic venous connection
Lastly, the systemic venous connection was reconstructed by an end-to-end anastomosis of the caval veins. After a short period of reperfusion, the patient was weaned from the cardiopulmonary bypass.
The patient spent nine days in the pediatric intensive care unit and was extubated on the fifth postoperative day. He was finally discharged after a total of four weeks in the hospital. There were no complications and no signs of acute rejection in the immediate postoperative period. The patient was discharged with antihypertensive therapy consisting of amlodipin and enalapril due to high blood pressure.
- Hetzer R, Weng Y, Delmo Walter EM. State of the art in paediatric heart transplantation: the Berlin experience. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2013 Feb 1;43(2):258-267.