Congenital cardiopathy surgery: evolutions and complexity
By: Intesa Sanpaolo
Every year 1.35 million children affected by congenital cardiopathy are born across the world. If left untreated, 40% of these die in the first year of life and constitute a clinical emergency. Successful surgery for these pathologies is the result of the pioneering vision of doctors whose objective has been to restore anatomy and physiology compatible with life. In 1939, the Journal of the American Medical Association celebrated the first successful surgical correction of Patent ductus arteriosus in a child of seven and inaugurated paediatric heart surgery.
Since then progress in anatomical and physio-pathology knowledge of congenital cardiopathies, ongoing research for increasingly corrective surgical operations together with the development of biomaterials and diagnostic means have enabled exciting results to be obtained in the cure of these congenital pathologies.
Over recent decades, early diagnosis – now generally in the foetal stage – is enabling 90% of children operated on for congenital cardiopathies to reach adulthood. Conventional surgery does not always allow the problems linked to the base cardiopathy to be resolved and heart transplant and mechanical ventricles need to be resorted to. Studies into regenerative therapies, biomaterial decellularising processes and stem cell treatment may yet revolutionise paediatric heart surgery.