Records of 273 cases of ventricular septal defect from five participating institutions were studied. Insignificant hemodynamic disturbance (Roger's) was found in 11 per cent, moderate to large left-to-right shunts in 55 per cent, and severe pulmonary vascular disease ("Eisenmenger's") in 8 per cent. Because of insufficient data, 26 per cent of the cases were not classified hemodynamically. Thus, a spectrum of severity ranging from mild to severe was noted.
There was evidence of congestive heart failure in infancy in 78 cases and a significant mortality occurred in this group, whether treatment was medical (mortality, 27 per cent) or surgical (mortality, 46 per cent). Six patients had hemodynamic evidence of severe progressive pulmonary vascular disease, three when they were less than 8 years old. Correlations of hemodynamic severity with clinical symptoms, roentgenographic findings, and electrocardiographic changes were reasonably good at the extreme ends of the severity spectrum but only fair in the middle range. Over-all mortality was high (28 per cent) for the 163 patients treated surgically, but mortality was also high (18 per cent) for the 110 patients treated medically. Ten of the 20 deaths in the medical group occurred in patients who had had congestive heart failure in infancy. Further study of the natural history of ventricular septal defect is clearly indicated for establishment of improved criteria for selection of cases for operation.
- © 1965 American Heart Association, Inc.