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J Emerg Med. 2013 Mar;44(3):599-604. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2012.09.030. Epub 2012 Dec 23.

Emergency department management of pediatric patients with cyanotic heart disease and fever.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Children with cyanotic congenital heart disease (CCHD) are living longer and presenting to the Emergency Department (ED) in larger numbers. A greater understanding of their diagnoses and appropriate management strategies can improve outcomes.


Our objective was to describe the ED diagnoses, management, and dispositions of pediatric CCHD patients who present with fever.


We retrospectively analyzed pediatric ED patients age 18 years or younger with a previous diagnosis of CCHD who presented with a fever from January 2000 to December 2005.


Of 809 total ED encounters, 248 (30.6%) were eligible for inclusion. Of those meeting inclusion criteria, 59 (23.8%) required supplemental oxygen and 67 (27%) received intravenous fluid. ED diagnoses were febrile illness in 120 (48.4%), pneumonia in 35 (14.1%), upper respiratory infection in 19 (7.7%), viral syndrome in 17 (6.9%), gastroenteritis in 17 (6.9%), otitis media in 10 (4.0%), bronchiolitis in 5 (2.0%), pharyngitis in 3 (1.2%), croup in 3 (1.2%), bronchitis in 3 (1.2%), urinary tract infection in 3 (1.2%), mononucleosis in 2 (0.8%), pericarditis in 2 (0.8%), influenza in 1 (0.4%), cellulitis in 1 (0.4%), bacteremia in 1 (0.4%), and potential endocarditis in 1 (0.4%). In terms of patient disposition, 53.2% were discharged, 44.4% were floor admissions, and 2.4% were intensive care unit admissions.


A cardiac cause of fever in CCHD patients is rare. Because of limited cardiopulmonary reserve, they might require supplemental oxygen, intravenous fluids, and hospital admission.

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