Dr Sunita Maheshwari*
ABP, ABPC (USA) Consultant Pediatric Cardiologist Narayana Hrudayalaya *
Successful management of pediatric cardiac emergencies requires an accurate diagnosis to institute an appropriate plan of therapy. The diagnosis, however, is not always straightforward, as evidenced by the nonspecific clinical picture that can be presented by congenital heart defects. Entertaining the possibility of a cardiac problem in neonates with pulmonary symptoms or sepsis unresponsive to standard therapies is crucial for successful management of patients with congenital heart disease. In addition to ventilatory support, prostaglandin E1 infusions or emergency interventional cardiac catheterization is often a life-saving initial measure in patients with acutely decompensated congenital cardiac lesions that require a patent ductus arteriosus for survival. Pericardial tamponade is associated with various acquired and iatrogenic causes. Emergent pericardiocentesis is mandatory when cardiovascular compromise occurs. The goal of anesthetic management is to maintain cardiac output. With the increasing use of central venous catheters in neonatal ICUs and the high mortality rate for central venous catheter-related cardiac tamponade, the diagnosis must be considered in any patient with a central venous catheter in situ who acutely develops unexplained hypotension, bradycardia, and diminished pulses. Arrhythmias also can cause hemodynamic instability in infants and children. Supraventricular tachycardia is by far the most common emergently presenting arrhythmia in the pediatric population. Unstable patients require immediate intravenous adenosine or synchronized cardioversion. Complete heart block is rare, but it can lead to congestive heart failure and occasionally to cardiovascular collapse and sudden death. Emergency treatment of complete heart block includes pharmacologic support and temporary or permanent pacemaker placement as indicated. In infants, congestive heart failure usually is related to congenital heart disease, whereas in older children, it tends to be secondary to an acquired cause. Supportive measures, fluid restriction, and inotropic support are the principles of initial treatment. Prompt recognition and initiation of appropriate therapy in pediatric cardiac emergencies are essential for favorable outcomes.
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