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BACKGROUND: There is ongoing debate about the best strategy to treat patients with tetralogy of Fallot who are symptomatic in the neonatal period.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to compare the outcomes of complete versus staged surgery (i.e., initial palliative procedure for possible later complete repair).
METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was performed using the Pediatric Health Information System database, including patients who underwent complete or staged tetralogy of Fallot repair prior to 30 days of age. The primary outcome was death during 2-year follow-up after the initial procedure. Inverse probability-weighted Cox and logistic regression models were used to examine the association between surgical approach group and mortality while accounting for patient- and hospital-level factors. Causal mediation analyses examined the role of intermediate variables.
RESULTS: A total of 2,363 patients were included (1,032 complete and 1,331 staged). There were 239 deaths. Complete neonatal repair was associated with a significantly higher risk for mortality during the 2-year follow-up period (hazard ratio: 1.51; 95% confidence interval: 1.05 to 2.06), between 7 and 30 days after the initial procedure (hazard ratio: 2.29; 95% confidence interval: 1.18 to 4.41), and during the initial hospital admission (odds ratio: 1.72; 95% confidence interval: 1.15 to 2.62). Post-operative cardiac complications were more common in the complete repair group and mediated the differences in 30-day and 2-year mortality.
CONCLUSIONS: Complete surgical repair for neonates with tetralogy of Fallot is associated with a significantly higher risk for early and 2-year mortality compared with the staged approach, after accounting for patient and hospital characteristics. Post-operative cardiac complications mediated these findings.