Long-Term Complications After Congenital Heart Defect Repair

By Betsy Todd, MPH, RN, CIC, AJN clinical editor

Even those of us who don’t work in peds or cardiology are familiar with the amazing surgeries done to repair congenital heart defects (CHDs). After surgery, kids with CHDs are literally transformed, their glowing good health a reminder that medical miracles really can happen.

Sometimes, though, health problems develop many years after CHD surgery. These can be consequences of the original defect itself, or of the specific type of repair that was employed.

In this month’s CE feature, “Long-Term Outcomes after Repair of Congenital Heart Defects (part 1),” Marion McRae, an NP in the Guerin Family Congenital Heart Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, discusses the anatomy, physiology, and repair options related to six common CHDs: bicuspid aortic valve, atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, atrioventricular septal defect, coarctation of the aorta, and pulmonic stenosis. One of the types of congenital heart defects covered in the article is shown in the illustration.

Figure 3. Secundum Atrial Septal Defect and Transcatheter Occlusion. Secundum atrial septal defect is located in the center of the atrial septum (A). Blood usually shunts across the defect from the left atrium to the right atrium. The Gore Helex septal occluder is shown in a partially deployed position across the atrial septum (B). LA = left atrium; LV = left ventricle; RA = right atrium; RV = right ventricle. Illustration by Anne Rains.

Figure 3. Secundum Atrial Septal Defect and Transcatheter Occlusion. Secundum atrial septal defect is located in the center of the atrial septum (A). Blood usually shunts across the defect from the left atrium to the right atrium. The Gore Helex septal occluder is shown in a partially deployed position across the atrial septum (B). LA = left atrium; LV = left ventricle; RA = right atrium; RV = right ventricle. Illustration by Anne Rains.

Because patients tend to do so well after surgical repair, many eventually discontinue cardiology follow-up. This means that when problems do develop in adulthood, nurses in nonspecialty settings may be the first to evaluate patients’ cardiac changes. McRae’s succinct summaries of common CHDs and their long-term outcomes is a “primer” that guides us in the initial assessment of these patients. (All CE articles in AJN are free.)

Part two of this article will be in the February issue and cover several other common CHDs and their repair and potential long-term complications.

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2016-11-21T13:03:10+00:00 January 19th, 2015|Nursing, Patients|2 Comments

About the Author:

Clinical editor, American Journal of Nursing (AJN), and epidemiologist

2 Comments

  1. Sallie Porter January 19, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Great CE topic.

  2. Kendra January 19, 2015 at 10:03 am

    Do complications usually arise after a patch is used to repair the ASD or is other just the amplatzer?

Comments are moderated before approval, but always welcome.