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Child Neuropsychol. 2018 May;24(4):451-468. doi: 10.1080/09297049.2017.1283396. Epub 2017 Feb 16.

Visuospatial processing in adolescents with critical congenital heart disease: Organization, integration, and implications for academic achievement.

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a Department of Psychiatry , Boston Children's Hospital , Boston , MA , USA.


Among the most significant factors affecting quality of life in individuals with critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) are neurodevelopmental challenges, including deficits in visuospatial processing and academic achievement. Few studies have compared outcomes across CCHD subgroups, despite their significant differences in anatomy/physiology and medical/surgical courses. This study compared visuospatial processing abilities using the Developmental Scoring System for the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure (DSS-ROCF) across groups of adolescents with CCHD (d-transposition of the great arteries [TGA, n = 139], Tetralogy of Fallot [TOF, n = 68], single-ventricle cardiac anatomy requiring the Fontan operation [SVF, n = 145]) and a group of healthy controls (CTR, n = 111), and examined the validity of visuospatial processing in predicting concurrent academic outcomes. The CCHD subgroups were found to differ in Organization, ps < .001, Structural Accuracy, ps < .001, and Incidental Elements Accuracy scores, ps ≤ .008; the post hoc analyses show that the SVF group tended to underperform compared to the other CCHD groups. With respect to academic skills, all CCHD groups scored lower than the CTR group, ps ≤ .007; however, the CCHD groups were not different from each other, ps > .23. The regression results showed that the DSS-ROCF Style rating (reflecting integration) accounted for a small yet statistically significant portion of unique variance in "assembled" academic outcomes, over and above the variance already accounted for by DSS-ROCF Organization, p < .01. These findings support the need for comprehensive neuropsychological assessment and monitoring of children and adolescents with CCHD, as well as targeted intervention for organization and integration deficits that may increase their risk for academic underachievement.


Adolescence; Cardiac; Congenital heart defect; Rey–Osterrieth Complex Figure; Visuospatial

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