Pediatric Cardiac Surgery: The Long View
Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects. Many of them are associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Of all congenital conditions, they account for the highest resource utilization among pediatric hospitalizations in developed countries.1 The history of cardiac surgery now spans nearly eight decades. In the earliest era of cardiac surgery, operations on children and young adults with congenital cardiac malformations accounted for the lion's share of "heart operations." Closure of patent ductus by Strieder and by Gross in Boston (1937, 1938), repair of coarctation of the aorta by Craaford in Stockholm (1944), and the "blue baby" shunt procedure by Blalock in Baltimore (1944) were landmark achievements that signaled the birth of the medical and surgical sub-specialties of pediatric cardiology and congenital heart surgery. What followed was a period of seven decades marked by huge increases in the understanding of circulatory physiology and the abnormal morphology and functional consequences of structural congenital heart disease, burgeoning technology that may facilitate earlier, more precise and more complete characterization of abnormally formed hearts, and therapeutic innovations that may save and prolong lives and ultimately contribute to the mission of maximizing longevity and optimizing the quality of life of individuals living with congenital heart disease.
- Received December 15, 2014.
- Accepted December 19, 2014.