Cardiac Surgery in Trisomy 13 and 18: A Guide to Clinical Decision-Making

Horacio G. Carvajal, Connor P. Callahan, Jacob R. Miller, Bethany L. Rensink, Pirooz Eghtesady

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


There has been substantial controversy regarding treatment of congenital heart defects in infants with trisomies 13 and 18. Most reports have focused on surgical outcomes versus expectant treatment, and rarely there has been an effort to consolidate existing evidence into a more coherent way to help clinicians with decision-making and counseling families. An extensive review of the existing literature on cardiac surgery in patients with these trisomies was conducted from 2004 to 2020. The effects of preoperative and perioperative factors on in-hospital and long-term mortality were analyzed, as well as possible predictors for postoperative chronic care needs such as tracheostomy and gastrostomy. Patients with minimal or no preoperative pulmonary hypertension and mechanical ventilation undergoing corrective surgery at a weight greater than 2.5 kg suffer from lower postoperative mortality. Infants with lower-complexity cardiac defects are likely to benefit the most from surgery, although their expected mortality is higher than that of infants without trisomy. Omphalocele confers an increased mortality risk regardless of cardiac surgery. Gastrointestinal comorbidities increased the risk of gastrostomy tube placement, while those with prolonged mechanical ventilation and respiratory comorbidities are more likely to require tracheostomy. Cardiac surgery is feasible in children with trisomies 13 and 18 and can provide improved long-term results. However, this is a clinically complex population, and both physicians and caretakers should be aware of the long-term challenges these patients face following surgery when discussing treatment options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1319-1333
Number of pages15
JournalPediatric Cardiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Cardiac surgery
  • Outcomes
  • Risk factors
  • Trisomy 13
  • Trisomy 18


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