Potts Shunt and Pediatric Pulmonary Hypertension: What We Have Learned

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Background A Potts shunt has been proposed as effective palliative therapy in children with severe pulmonary hypertension (PH) who have suprasystemic right ventricular pressures. Methods A retrospective single-center study was performed to assess outcomes in 5 children who underwent a Potts shunt for severe PH. Results All 5 children were in World Health Organization functional class IV. Only 3 children were classified as having idiopathic pulmonary arterial PH. Preoperatively, 4 children were receiving intravenous prostacyclins, and 3 were placed on intravenous inotropes for acute right-side heart failure. Three children were potential lung transplant candidates. All but 1 child had evidence for suprasystemic right heart pressures immediately before their operation. All 5 children survived the procedure without significant complications. Four of the 5 children were successfully discharged from the hospital and have had sustained clinical improvement with follow-up ranging from approximately 5 to 16 months. The child who did not have suprasystemic right-side heart pressures before the operation did not benefit from the Potts shunt. Conclusions The Potts shunt can be an effective palliation for children with severe PH. Our results further suggest that (1) a Potts shunt should be considered early in a child's clinical course, before right ventricular deterioration develops; (2) a Potts shunt should be considered in any child with severe, intractable PH regardless of etiology; (3) one might consider a Potts shunt in lieu of intravenous prostacyclins; and (4) a Potts shunt should be considered before lung transplantation and does not preclude future transplantation candidacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1539-1543
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


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