Characteristics of interstage death after discharge from stage I palliation


Cardiology, Advocate Children's Heart Institute


BACKGROUND: Interstage mortality (IM) remains high for patients with single-ventricle congenital heart disease (SVCHD) in the period between Stage 1 Palliation (S1P) and Glenn operation. We sought to characterize IM.

METHODS: This was a descriptive analysis of 2184 patients with SVCHD discharged home after S1P from 60 National Pediatric Cardiology Quality Improvement Collaborative sites between 2008 and 2015. Patients underwent S1P with right ventricle-pulmonary artery conduit (RVPAC), modified Blalock-Taussig-Thomas shunt (BTT), or Hybrid; transplants were excluded.

RESULTS: IM occurred in 153 (7%) patients (median gestational age 38 weeks, 54% male, 77% white), at 88 (IQR 60,136) days of life, and 39 (IQR 17,84) days after hospital discharge; 13 (8.6%) occurred ≤ 30 days after S1P. The mortality rate for RVPAC was lower (5.2%; 59/1138) than BTT (9.1%; 65/712) and Hybrid (20.1%; 27/134). More than half of deaths occurred at home (20%) or in the emergency department (33%). The remainder occurred while inpatient at center of S1P (cardiac intensive care unit 36%, inpatient ward 5%) or at a different center (5%). Fussiness and breathing problems were most often cited as harbingers of death; distance to surgical center was the biggest barrier cited to seeking care. Cause of death was unknown in 44% of cases overall; in the subset of patients who underwent post-mortem autopsy, the cause of death remained unknown in 30% of patients, with the most common diagnosis being low cardiac output.

CONCLUSIONS: Most IM occurred in the outpatient setting, with non-specific preceding symptoms and unknown cause of death. These data indicate the need for research to identify occult causes of death, including arrhythmia.

Document Type


PubMed ID


Link to Full Text