OBJECTIVES: The population of ageing adults with congenital heart disease (ACHD) is increasing; surgery in these patients presents major difficulties in management. A great debate has developed about whether these patients should be cared for at an adult or paediatric hospital and by an acquired or congenital cardiac surgeon. We analysed data of the surgical treatment of ACHD from the Italian cardiac surgery centres in 2016, focusing on the type of surgery performed, where these patients were operated on and by whom.
METHODS: Ninety-two Italian cardiac surgery centres were contacted and 70 centres participated in this study. We collected data on the types of cardiac operations performed in congenital heart defect patients older than 18 years. In 2016, a total of 913 patients with ACHD were operated on: 440 by congenital cardiac surgeons (group I) in centres with paediatric and adult cardiac surgery units, and 473 by adult cardiac surgeons (group II) in centres with exclusively adult cardiac surgery units.
RESULTS: Pathologies of the right ventricular outflow tract were the most frequent diseases treated in group I and pathologies of the left ventricular outflow tract in group II. Group I included more complex and heterogeneous cases than group II. Surgery for ACHD represented 12% of the activity of congenital cardiac surgeons and only 1% of the activity of adult cardiac surgeons.
CONCLUSIONS: In Italy, ACHD patients are operated on both by congenital and adult cardiac surgeons. Congenital cardiac surgeons working in centres with both paediatric and adult cardiac surgery are more involved with ACHD patients and with more complex cases.