Pleural Effusions After Congenital Cardiac Surgery Requiring Readmission: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Hughes A, Carter K, Cyrus J, Karam O.Pediatr Cardiol. 2020 May 18. doi: 10.1007/s00246-020-02365-4. Online ahead of print.PMID: 32424719



Patients with congenital heart disease (CHD) are surviving longer thanks to improved surgical techniques and increasing knowledge of natural history. Pleural effusions continue to be a complication that affect many surgical patients and are associated with increased morbidity, many times requiring readmission and additional invasive procedures. The risks for development of pleural effusion after hospital discharge are ill-defined, which leads to uncertainty related to strategies for prevention. Our primary objective was to determine, in patients with CHD requiring cardiopulmonary bypass, the prevalence of post-surgical pleural effusions leading to readmission. The secondary objective was to identify risk factors associated with post-surgical pleural effusions requiring readmission. We identified 4417 citations; 10 full-text articles were included in the final review. Of the included studies, eight focused on single-ventricle palliation, one looked at Tetralogy of Fallot patients, and another on pleural effusion in the setting of post-pericardiotomy syndrome. Using a random-effect model, the overall prevalence of pleural effusion requiring readmission was 10.2% (95% CI 4.6; 17.6). Heterogeneity was high (I2 = 91%). In a subpopulation of patients after single-ventricle palliation, the prevalence was 13.0% (95% CI 6.0;21.0), whereas it was 3.0% (95% CI 0.4;6.75) in patients mostly with biventricular physiology. We were unable to accurately assess risk factors. A better understanding of this complication with a focus on single-ventricle physiology will allow for improved risk stratification, family counseling, and earlier recognition of pleural effusion in this patient population.