September 1956

Causes of Death in One Thousand Operations for Congenital Heart Disease

Author Affiliations

From the Children's Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University Medical School.

AMA Arch Surg. 1956;73(3):508-516. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1956.01280030134016

Introduction  To February, 1955, one thousand operations were performed for many types of congenital heart disease in children from ages 8 days to 16 years. There were 90 deaths and 89 postmortem examinations. It seemed to us that an inventory of the causes of death during and immediately following operation might be of considerable value to us and of some interest to those concerned with the surgical treatment of congenital heart disease.Reference to Table 1 will at once reveal the well-known fact that certain abnormalities are associated with extremely high mortality. Our primary interest in this study has been to learn which of the deaths were preventable. It is often a bit disillusioning to turn the spotlight of postmortem finality on operative deaths. Very frequently, however, after postmortem examination, it was still impossible to say which particular pathologic change was the cause of death. For example, a puny, 12

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