BACKGROUND: Cardiac catheterization has revolutionized the management of pediatric cardiac disease. There has been little information on adverse events during these cases from an anesthesia viewpoint. The aim of this audit was to determine the incident rate during pediatric cardiac catheterization as contemporaneously reported by the anesthetist and to identify both the types of events and which procedures had the highest risk. METHODS: Since 1993, data have been collected prospectively on an audit form for every anesthetic given in our institution, and in-theatre events were recorded on this form. We have reviewed the data collected on pediatric cardiac catheterizations over a period of 9 years. RESULTS: A total of 4454 cardiac catheterizations were recorded. The overall incidence of events was 9.3%. Cardiac catheterization with occlusion of a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) or a secundum atrial septal defect (ASD) had the lowest event rate at 4.2%. The figure for cardiac catheterization with other therapeutic interventions was 11.6 and 9.3% for solely diagnostic cardiac catheterization. The event rate in infants under the age of 1 year was 13.9% compared with 6.7% for those children over the age of 1 year. Of the 253 reports from cardiac catheterizations that could be analyzed further, there were 91 major complications including four deaths, 72 minor complications and 90 other incidents. CONCLUSIONS: Adverse events occur more commonly during cardiac catheterization than during pediatric anesthesia in general. Cases with highest risk are those in the under 1 year olds and those including a therapeutic intervention other than PDA or ASD occlusion.
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