Children with heart disease: Risk stratification for non-cardiac surgery

Angela K. Saettele, Jacob L. Christensen, Kelly L. Chilson, David J. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Study objective Children with congenital or acquired heart disease have an increased risk of anesthesia related morbidity and mortality. The child's anesthetic risk is related to the severity of their underlying cardiac disease, associated comorbidities, and surgical procedure. The goal of this project was to determine the ease of use of a preoperative risk stratification tool for assigning pediatric cardiac staff and to determine the relative frequency that children with low, moderate, and high risk cardiac disease present for non-cardiac surgery at a tertiary pediatric hospital. Design A risk-stratification tool was prospectively applied to children with congenital heart disease who presented for non-cardiac surgery. Setting Perioperative Patients We identified a subset of 100 children with congenital heart disease out of 2200 children who required general anesthesia for surgical or radiological procedures over a 6 week period. Interventions A risk stratification tool was utilized to place the patient into low, moderate, or high risk categories to help predict anticipated anesthetic risk. Each grouping specified assignment of staff caring for the patient, clarified preoperative expectations for cardiac assessment, and determined if patient care could be performed at our freestanding ambulatory surgical center. Measurements Electronic perioperative records were reviewed to obtain demographic information, the underlying heart disease, prior cardiac surgery, associated conditions, anesthetic management, complications, and provider type. Main results Approximately 4.5% of children presented with cardiac disease over a 6 week period. In 100 consecutive children with cardiac disease, 23 of the children were classified as low risk, 66 patients were classified as moderate risk, and 11 of the patients were classified as high risk. Pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists provided care to all high risk patients. There were no serious adverse events. Conclusions We found this risk stratification method an effective method to differentiate children into low, moderate, and high risk categories for anesthesia planning and management.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)479-484
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Anesthesia
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Adverse events
  • Anesthesia
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Quality improvement


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