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Curr Opin Pediatr. 2006 Oct;18(5):512-7.

Advances in pediatric heart transplantation.

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Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center and Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, 1465 S. Grand Boulevard, St Louis, MO 63104, USA.



Heart transplantation has become a reasonable treatment option for pediatric patients with end-stage heart failure or complex congenital cardiac defects not amenable to conventional surgical intervention. This review will summarize the current state of pediatric cardiac transplantation and review recent advances leading to new therapies.


Improvements in early mortality after cardiac transplantation have occurred consistently over time since the 1980s, short-term survival rates are high, and most patients enjoy an excellent quality of life with minimal restrictions. The reduction of late mortality is still a major challenge, however, largely as a result of transplant-related coronary artery disease causing chronic graft failure and arrhythmogenic sudden death. Additional causes of morbidity and mortality occurring late after transplantation include renal dysfunction related to chronic immunosuppressive therapy with calcineurin inhibitors (tacrolimus or cyclosporine) and posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorders related to chronic immunosuppression. Newer agents (sirolimus, everolimus) have shown promise in immunosuppressive regimens that may alter the development or progression of long-term complications.


New immunosuppressive agents allow alterations in drug regimens to minimize renal complications, and may influence the incidence and progression of transplant vasculopathy. Recent studies on posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorders should result in earlier diagnosis and therapy.

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