Background: This multicenter study evaluated experience with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) as a bridge to orthotopic heart transplantation (OHT) in children. Methods: The application of ICD therapy continues to expand in pediatric populations, due in part to improved technology and new indications, including the prevention of sudden death while awaiting OHT. Methods: We performed a retrospective review of ICD databases at 9 pediatric transplant centers. Results: Twenty-eight patients (16 males) underwent implantation or had a preexisting ICD while awaiting OHT between 1990 and 2002. The median age at implant was 14.3 years (11 months to 21 years) with a median weight of 49 kg (11.7-88 kg). Diagnoses included cardiomyopathy (n = 22), and congenital heart disease (n = 6). Indications for ICD implantation included ventricular tachycardia/fibrillation (n = 23), syncope (n = 5), aborted sudden death with no documentation of rhythm disturbance (n = 5), ventricular ectopy (n = 1), and poor function (n = 5). Of the 28 ICDs, 23 were implanted by a transvenous approach and 5 by epicardial route. There were 55 defibrillator discharges in 17 patients, 47 (85%) of which (in 13 patients) were appropriate. The 8 inappropriate discharges (in 6 patients) were triggered by sinus tachycardia, inappropriate sensing, and atrial flutter. The mean time from implantation to first appropriate shock was 6.9 months (1 day to 2.6 years). Twenty-one patients underwent transplantation during the study period, whereas 2 died while awaiting a donor. Morbidity included a lead fracture, 3 episodes of electromechanical dissociation, and 1 episode of electrical storm. Conclusions: ICD implantation represents an effective bridge to transplantation in pediatric patients. The complication rate is low, with inappropriate device discharge due primarily to sinus tachycardia or atrial flutter. There is a high incidence of appropriate ICD therapy for malignant ventricular arrhythmias in this highly selected group of patients.
- Heart transplant