Risk, clinical features, and outcomes of thrombosis associated with pediatric cardiac surgery

Cedric Manlhiot, Ines B. Menjak, Leonardo R. Brandão, Colleen E. Gruenwald, Steven M. Schwartz, V. Ben Sivarajan, Hyaemin Yoon, Robert Maratta, Caitlin L. Carew, Janet A. McMullen, Nadia A. Clarizia, Helen M. Holtby, Suzan Williams, Christopher A. Caldarone, Glen S. Van Arsdell, Anthony K. Chan, Brian W. McCrindle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background-: Thrombosis, usually considered a serious but rare complication of pediatric cardiac surgery, has not been a major clinical and/or research focus in the past. Methods and Results-: We noted 444 thrombi (66% occlusive, 60% symptomatic) in 171 of 1542 surgeries (11%). Factors associated with increased odds of thrombosis were age <31 days (odds ratio [OR], 2.0; P=0.002), baseline oxygen saturation <85% (OR, 2.0; P=0.001), previous thrombosis (OR, 2.6; P=0.001), heart transplantation (OR, 4.1; P<0.001), use of deep hypothermic circulatory arrest (OR, 1.9 P=0.01), longer cumulative time with central lines (OR, 1.2 per 5-day equivalent; P<0.001), and postoperative use of extracorporeal support (OR, 5.2; P<0.001). Serious complications of thrombosis occurred with 64 of 444 thrombi (14%) in 47 of 171 patients (28%), and were associated with thrombus location (intrathoracic, 45%; extrathoracic arterial, 19%; extrathoracic venous, 8%; P<0.001), symptomatic thrombi (OR, 8.0; P=0.02), and partially/fully occluding thrombi (OR, 14.3; P=0.001); indwelling access line in vessel (versus no access line) was associated with lower risk of serious complications (OR, 0.4; P=0.05). Thrombosis was associated with longer intensive care unit (+10.0 days; P<0.001) and hospital stay (+15.2 days; P<0.001); higher odds of cardiac arrest (OR, 4.9; P<0.001), catheter reintervention (OR, 3.3; P=0.002), and reoperation (OR, 2.5; P=0.003); and increased mortality (OR, 5.1; P<0.001). Long-term outcome assessment was possible for 316 thrombi in 129 patients. Of those, 197 (62%) had resolved at the last follow-up. Factors associated with increased odds of thrombus resolution were location (intrathoracic, 75%; extrathoracic arterial, 89%; extrathoracic venous, 60%; P<0.001), nonocclusive thrombi (OR, 2.2; P=0.01), older age at surgery (OR, 1.2 per year; P=0.04), higher white blood cell count (OR, 1.1/10 cells per 1 mL; P=0.002), and lower fibrinogen (OR, 1.4/g/L; P=0.02) after surgery. Conclusions-: Thrombosis affects a high proportion of children undergoing cardiac surgery and is associated with suboptimal outcomes. Increased awareness and effective prevention and detection strategies are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1511-1519
Number of pages9
Issue number14
StatePublished - Oct 4 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • heart defects, congenital
  • morbidity
  • pediatrics
  • surgery
  • thrombosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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