BACKGROUND: Closed pulmonary valvotomy for critical pulmonary stenosis has no apparent advantage over the percutaneous balloon technique, though it is used when balloon valvuloplasty fails. Experience of this technique at the Heart Institute, Tel Hashomer, since it was first used in 1973 has been reviewed. METHODS: Thirty eight infants up to 1 year old (25 of them neonates--that is, nil to 1 month old) with critical pulmonary stenosis were operated on from 1973 to 1989. All had a transventricular valvotomy, by a modification of the Brock method, and all underwent cardiac catheterisation before surgery. RESULTS: Five of the 25 neonates (20%) died, but none of the other infants, so that the total mortality (five out of 38) was 13%. Three of the 38 required an aortopulmonary shunt. All 38 survivors were followed up--from one month to 14 years (mean 7.5 years). All were symptom free at the last check up. Fifteen of the survivors had required further surgery; this was successful in all cases. CONCLUSIONS: For the balloon valvuloplasty era surgical pulmonary valvotomy provides a good back up for failed attempts at percutaneous valvuloplasty. Review of outcome provides data for comparison with balloon valvuloplasty in the future.
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