Complications of endomyocardial biopsy in children

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OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the incidence of, and risk factors for, complications of endomyocardial biopsy in children. BACKGROUND: Endomyocardial biopsy (EMB) is a low risk procedure in adults, but there is a paucity of data with regard to performing this procedure in children. METHODS: Retrospective review of the morbidity and mortality of 1,000 consecutive EMB procedures. RESULTS: One thousand EMB procedures (right ventricle 986, left ventricle 14) were performed on 194 patients from July 1987 through March 1996. Indications for EMB included heart transplant rejection surveillance (846) and the evaluation of cardiomyopathy or arrhythmia for possible myocarditis (154). Thirty-seven (4%) procedures were performed on patients receiving intravenous inotropic support. There was one biopsy related death, secondary to cardiac perforation, in a two-week-old infant with dilated cardiomyopathy. There were nine perforations of the right ventricle, eight occurring in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy and one in a transplant recipient. The transplant patient did not require immediate intervention; two patients required pericardiocentesis alone, and six underwent pericardiocentesis and surgical intervention. All nine perforations were from the femoral venous approach (p < 0.01). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that the greatest risk of perforation occurred in children being evaluated for possible myocarditis (p = 0.01) and in those requiring inotropic support (p < 0.01). Other complications included arrhythmia (5) and single cases of coronary-cardiac fistula, flail tricuspid leaflet, pneumothorax, hemothorax, endocardial stripping and seizure. CONCLUSIONS: Risk of endomyocardial biopsy is highest in sick children with suspected myocarditis on inotropic support. However, EMB can be performed safely with very low morbidity in pediatric heart transplant recipients.




Pophal, S. G., Sigfusson, G., Booth, K. L., Bacanu, S. A., Webber, S. A., Ettedgui, J. A., … Park, S. C. (1999). Complications of endomyocardial biopsy in children. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 34(7), 2105–2110.

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