Neurodevelopmental outcome in hypoplastic left heart syndrome after hybrid procedure

Bettina Reich, Kristina N. Heye, Kristina Wetterling, Thushiha Logeswaran, Andreas Hahn, Hakan Akintürk, Christian Jux, Dietmar Schranz


Background: Little is known about the mid-term outcome and brain development in patients following the hybrid approach for hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). This study investigates neurodevelopmental outcome, quality of life (QoL) and brain MRI findings in HLHS preschoolers treated with the hybrid approach.
Methods: Twenty HLHS patients (60% males) have been examined after neonatal hybrid Stage I and comprehensive stage II operation at the Pediatric Heart Center Giessen, Germany, between 2012 and 2016. Patients were evaluated with the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development III (Bayley-III), neurological examination, the Preschool Children Quality of Life Questionnaire (TAPQOL) at age 26.5±3.6 months, and again at 39.7±3.9 months with the Pediatric Cardiac Quality of Life Inventory (PCQLI). Furthermore, brain volumetric measurements and conventional brain MRI findings (27.3±4.5 months) were analyzed and compared with six healthy controls (29.2±11.1 months, P=0.53). Children with verified genetic comorbidities were excluded.
Results: Mean cognitive, language, and motor composite scores on the Bayley-III were not different from healthy norms (100±15), and were 101±9.3 (P=0.48), 100±13 (P=0.93), and 98±11.7 (P=0.45), respectively. Status post stroke was the most common brain MRI abnormality, and was found in 3/19 (16%) patients, most common affecting the middle cerebral artery territory. In comparison to controls, total white matter volumes were reduced (P=0.014), and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) volumes were increased (P=0.042) in patients. Overall health-related QoL in 2 to 3 years aged children HLHS was good, but inferior scores in the motor subscale were noted compared to healthy norms (P=0.007). However, at 3 to 4 years, parents reported comparable QoL for their children in the PCQLI to children with biventricular heart lesion.
Conclusions: HLHS patients followed by hybrid approach without major complications show a favorable neurodevelopment at 2–3 years of age. Despite extensive health-related burden, the vast majority of Fontan preschoolers with HLHS showed a good health-related QoL. Nevertheless, comprehensive care and establishing routine follow-up examinations are important to recognize long-term challenges and further improve neurodevelopmental outcome of this high-risk patient population.