The Modified Blalock-Taussig Shunt: A 6-Year Experience from a Developing Country


Since 1992 we have performed the modified Blalock-Taussig shunt (MBTS) for cyanotic children in Libya. This retrospective study reviews our results as a developing country, comparing them with those in the literature, and makes suggestions to improve our results. Between May 1992 and May 1998, 94 children (58 males and 36 females) underwent 100 MBTSs in Mesallata Cardiothoracic Centre, Libya. The age ranged from 4 days to 15 years, (median 12 months) and 25 patients were neonates. Patients' weights ranged from 3 to 31 kg (median 6.4 kg). Eighty-nine shunts were performed on the left side and 11 on the right. A 6-mm polytetrafluoroethylene graft was used in 68 children and a 4-mm graft in 32 cases. Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) comprised the majority of cases (63; 67%), the remaining 31 (33%) included tricuspid atresia (13), pulmonary atresia (9), univentricular heart complex (6), and others (3). Acute shunt failure occurred in 3 cases (2 with 4-mm and 1 with 6-mm grafts), all of which had not received perioperative heparin. Hospital mortality was 6% (6 patients); risk factors were neonates, a diagnosis other than TOF, and emergency surgery. There were 12 late deaths, 6 of which were due to sepsis. Follow-up was achieved in 82 of 88 early survivors for a period of 2 to 60 months (median 26 months). All surviving patients had subjective and objective improvement. We conclude that MBTS is an excellent palliative procedure for children requiring a systemic-pulmonary shunt in developing as well as developed countries. This series shows an early mortality rate comparable to that of other studies, but the late mortality is higher, mainly due to sepsis, which warrants further attention.


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