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Ann Thorac Surg. 2006 Mar;81(3):982-7.

Gastrointestinal morbidity after Norwood palliation for hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Critical Care Medicine, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA.



Neonates with hypoplastic left heart syndrome are at high risk for developing gastrointestinal complications after first stage palliation. These complications likely play a major role in their morbidity and mortality. The goal of this review was to examine the incidence and clinical impact of gastrointestinal morbidities in these newborns.


The charts of all neonates with hypoplastic left heart syndrome who underwent stage-one palliation between January 1997 and December 2001 were reviewed to determine the incidence of gastrointestinal complications. Demographic, perioperative, and procedural variables were collected and correlated with major gastrointestinal problems.


There were 117 patients in our study population, and survival to discharge was 87% (102 of 117). Gastrointestinal complications occurred in 48 (41%), including 18% with necrotizing enterocolitis, 18% who required home feeding tubes, and 8% who required prolonged hospital length of stay for nutritional support. These infants had a longer length of stay (52 days versus 22 days; p < 0.0001). Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that weight less than 2.5 kg and development of necrotizing enterocolitis were each independently related to death. Neonates with a birth weight less than 2.5 kg had an odds ratio for death of 5.7 (95% confidence interval: 1.14 to 28.86), and the odds ratio for death with necrotizing enterocolitis was 5.6 (95% confidence interval: 1.55 to 20.67).


Gastrointestinal complications in infants with hypoplastic left heart syndrome are common, and necrotizing enterocolitis increases the risk of death. Measures directed at reducing the incidence of gastrointestinal complications may improve outcomes and reduce costs in this population.

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