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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1988 Jul;96(1):117-21.

Long-term palliation with the classic Blalock-Taussig shunt.

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  • 1Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Rochester Medical Center, N.Y.


Eighty-five patients received a classic Blalock-Taussig shunt between 1973 and 1986. Their age range was 1 day to 9.3 years and their median age was 4 months. Forty-one percent (35/85) were less than 1 month of age. The basic operative technique was unchanged throughout the time period. The subclavian artery opposite the side of the arch was used in 89% (79/88) of the patients. All anastomoses were done with monofilament suture and there was a tendency toward smaller suture material (7-0) in the latter years. All anastomoses except one were done with an interrupted suture technique. The operative mortality rate was 4.7% (4/85) and was not statistically related to age, diagnosis, or year of operation. Palliation was considered to be satisfactory until either a second shunt or a premature corrective operation were necessary. Seven patients required a second shunt and three, a premature corrective operation. The mean time between the initial shunt and the second procedure, either a second shunt or a corrective operation, was 2.9 years and 2.4 years, respectively. Twenty-five patients have had an elective corrective operation and the mean interval to that procedure was 3.9 years. Two years after the operation, 97% of patients older than 1 month of age at operation remain in well-palliated condition, as do 87% of those less than 1 month of age. At 4 years, 87% of those older than 1 month and 54% of those less than 1 month of age continue to be in well-palliated condition. The classic Blalock-Taussig shunt provides excellent palliation at a low operative mortality for virtually all patients for a minimum of 2 years. It will provide adequate pulmonary blood flow for most patients for an extended period of time beyond 2 years.

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