The first open heart corrections of tetralogy of Fallot. A 26-31 year follow-up of 106 patients

C. W. Lillehei, R. L. Varco, M. Cohen, H. E. Warden, V. L. Gott, R. A. DeWall, C. Patton, J. H. Moller

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159 Scopus citations


Tetralogy of Fallot became a correctable malformation on August 31, 1954, and from that date through 1960, 106 patients (ages 4 months-45 years) who underwent open repairs at the University of Minnesota and were discharged, have been followed (99% complete) until death or for 26-31 years (mean: 23.7 years, 2424 patient years). The purposes of this study were to determine survival, morbidity, hemodynamics, educational/employment attainments, and relation of these to surgical techniques. Operations were done by cross circulation (6 patients) and bubble oxygenator (100 patients). This group had the first uses of patch ventricular septal defect closure, outflow root, infundibuloplasty, atresia correction, ischemic arrests, and pacemakers among other innovations. Twenty-one (of 105 patients) have died during the followup: eight deaths in the first 10 years, 12 between 10 and 20 years, and 1 > 20 years. The causes of death were sudden (5), accidental (4), congestive failure (2), reoperation (2), suicide (2), and other (2). Actuarial survival at 30 years was 77%. Late complications were ten reoperations, five arrhythmias, and one endocarditis. Actuarial freedom from reoperations at 30 years was 91%. Cardiac recatheterizations in 62 patients disclosed only 10 with residual shunts. Peak right ventricular systolic pressures were < 40 mmHg (34 patients), 41-60 mm (2 patients), 61-70 mm (4 patients), > 71 mm (4 patients). Thirty-four patients (32%) completed college, ten of these completed graduate school (5 masters degrees, 2 M.D.'s, 2 Ph.D.'s, 1 lawyer). Fifteen others attended college, and nine received technical school diplomas. Forty patients (18 men, 22 women) had progeny, with 82 (93%) live births and six major cardiac defects (7.3%). In summary, complete repair gave excellent late results in this group cared for very early in the open heart era. Survivors led productive lives without restrictions in education and employment. Many of the deaths/complications that occurred are now easily preventable, which augurs extremely well for this generation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)490-502
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1986


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