'Duct Busters' team travels to perform newborn heart surgery at regional hospitals

An experienced pediatric cardiothoracic team can travel to regional hospitals to perform sophisticated heart surgery on premature infants without compromising safety or effectiveness, according to a new study. Bringing surgical care to the patient eliminates the risks associated with transporting a medically fragile newborn and reduces stress for families.

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia team, known informally as Duct Busters, repairs a life-threatening heart defect called patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), in which a major blood vessel fails to close after birth. Most common in premature newborns, this open duct causes abnormal circulation in the newborn and can lead to heart failure and impaired lung function. Medication may succeed in closing the duct, but in some cases, surgical closure with small titanium clips is necessary.

"We can bring the same comprehensive, high quality surgical care available at Children's Hospital to the bedside of infants across the region," says Douglas S. Gould, C.R.N.A., M.S., a certified registered nurse anesthetist and lead author of the study. "In addition to avoiding the risks of transport, this approach allows families to stay in the environment that is familiar to them."

In the study, published in the December issue of Pediatrics, the team compares the records of 72 patients who had surgery for PDA by the Children's Hospital team between 1996 and 2002. Of the 72 patients, 38 had surgery on-site at Children's Hospital and 34 underwent the procedure at one of six referring hospitals. The team found no anesthesia-related complications reported in either group and there was no significant difference in the incidence of surgical complications between the groups.

In 1997, the Children's Hospital Duct Busters team began offering the traveling service to referring hospitals for patients with PDA. In addition to the expertise of a comprehensive team of pediatric cardiothoracic surge

Contact: Erin McDermott
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

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