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Pulmonary vascular and alveolar development in tetralogy of Fallot: a recommendation for early correction.
  1. R J Johnson,
  2. S G Haworth

    Abstract

    Using quantitative morphometric techniques, we analysed pulmonary arterial and alveolar development in the lungs of seven children aged 1.2-12 years who died during or soon after repair of tetralogy of Fallot. One child had a residual ventricular septal defect and survived for five months. One other child had had a previous Waterston-Cooley anastomosis (Waterston shunt). Postmortem lung volume in relation to body surface area was generally below normal for age, the alveoli were small, and the total alveolar number was below normal in five of the seven cases. Microscopically, airway and alveolar structure appeared normal. The preacinar arteries were larger and the intra-acinar arteries were smaller than normal for age. The preacinar elastic pulmonary arteries appeared to contain less elastin and in both preacinar and intra-acinar muscular arteries the media was thinner than normal, although muscle was normally distributed along the arterial pathway. Eccentric areas of intimal fibrosis were small and uncommon. The bronchial arteries were generally more prominent than usual both macroscopically and microscopically, but no abnormal bronchopulmonary connections were present. After corrective surgery a residual ventricular septal defect and pulmonary hypertension were associated with arterial medial hypertrophy, and this change was also found in the right lung of a normotensive patient who had had a Waterston shunt. This group probably represents the most favourable clinical picture of tetralogy in patients who usually survive but, even so, pulmonary arterial and alveolar development was abnormal. The structural findings are discussed in relation to the functional outcome in patients with tetralogy who have survived. Repair of the abnormality during the first two to three years of life is recommended.

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