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J Card Surg. 2005 Jan-Feb;20(1):102-6.

Orthotopic cardiac transplantation: comparison of outcome using biatrial, bicaval, and total techniques.

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Department of Surgery, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.



For more than 35 years, the biatrial technique of performing orthotopic cardiac transplantation has been the gold standard, and involves anastomoses of donor and recipient atrial cuffs. More recently, however, bicaval and total techniques have been devised in an attempt to improve cardiac anatomy, physiology, and postoperative outcome. A bicaval approach preserves the donor atria and combines the standard left atrial anastomosis with a separate bicaval anastomosis. Total orthotopic heart transplantation involves complete excision of the recipient atria with separate bicaval end-to-end anastomoses, as well as pulmonary venous anastomoses. The aim of this study was to conduct a literature review of studies that compared the three surgical techniques (biatrial, bicaval, and total) for performing orthotopic cardiac transplantation. Numerous outcome variables were evaluated, and included post-transplant survival, atrial dimensions, atrioventricular valvular insufficiency, arrhythmias, pacing requirements, vasopressor requirements, and hospital stay.


We conducted a Medline (Pubmed) search using the terms "biatrial and cardiac transplantation,""bicaval and cardiac transplantation," and "total technique and cardiac transplantation," which yielded 192 entries: 39 of these were studies that compared surgical techniques and were included in the review.


There was overwhelming evidence that the bicaval technique provided anatomic and functional advantages, with improvements in post-transplant survival, atrial geometry, and hemodynamics, as well as decreased valvular insufficiency, arrhythmias, pacing requirements, vasopressor requirements, and hospital stay.


The bicaval technique was superior to both biatrial and total techniques for numerous outcome variables. To further elucidate this issue, a prospective randomized trial comparing the three techniques, with long-term follow-up, is warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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