CONTEXT: Brain injury during prenatal and preoperative postnatal life might play a major role in neurodevelopmental impairment in infants with congenital heart disease (CHD) who require corrective or palliative surgery during infancy. A systematic review of cerebral findings during this period in relation to neurodevelopmental outcome (NDO), however, is lacking.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the association between prenatal and postnatal preoperative cerebral findings and NDO in infants with CHD who require corrective or palliative surgery during infancy.
DATA SOURCES: PubMed, Embase, reference lists.
STUDY SELECTION: We conducted 3 different searches for English literature between 2000 and 2016; 1 for prenatal cerebral findings, 1 for postnatal preoperative cerebral findings, and 1 for the association between brain injury and NDO.
DATA EXTRACTION: Two reviewers independently screened sources and extracted data on cerebral findings and neurodevelopmental outcome. Quality of studies was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale.
RESULTS: Abnormal cerebral findings are common during the prenatal and postnatal preoperative periods. Prenatally, a delay of cerebral development was most common; postnatally, white matter injury, periventricular leukomalacia, and stroke were frequently observed. Abnormal Doppler measurements, brain immaturity, cerebral oxygenation, and abnormal EEG or amplitude-integrated EEG were all associated with NDO.
LIMITATIONS: Observational studies, different types of CHD with different pathophysiological effects, and different reference values.
CONCLUSIONS: Prenatal and postnatal preoperative abnormal cerebral findings might play an important role in neurodevelopmental impairment in infants with CHD. Increased awareness of the vulnerability of the young developing brain of an infant with CHD among caregivers is essential.