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5 minutes crash course on Ventricular septal rupture !

Posted Jan 14 2011 11:34am

We know,  electrical deaths constitute the bulk of sudden cardiac deaths in MI.  Mechanical deaths due to pump failure, muscle rupture , valve leak , also cause significant deaths   .(Surprisingly many of the mechanical deaths   may also   fulfill  the sudden death criteria !)

Free wall rupture is  invariably a fatal event. Papillary  muscle trunk  rupture  leads to severe LVF and unless intervened sure to result in fatality.

The ones who tear their interventricular septum  are some what blessed ! Here ,  the rupture does not result in instant death as there is  no loss of blood ,   instead , there is an  volume over load of right ventricle  followed by the  left ventricle  after a  few beats. Hypotension is the  rule. Even though this is a major complication there is something about  VSR which makes it unique.

Sudden giving way of IVS has  a decompressing effect on the ailing left ventricle.This many times  bring a  temporary relief to LV and if the patient survives the first few hour he is likely to stabilise  further . In fact , sudden deaths within 24hours after the onset of VSR is an exception.This defect always gives the cardiologists and surgeon some time to plan the management. We need to use this time judiciously.

The natural history is delicate . Five themes are possible

  1. Very unstable - Instant death( Fortunately a  rare theme )
  2. Unstable - Deteriorating further
  3. Unstable to Stable * fit for discharge even without surgery
  4. Stable from the onset and  continue to be stable* .
  5. Stable to Unstable (Probably the most common theme )

* Pleasant themes occasionally witnessed !)

Here is 55 year old women came with extensive anterior MI with lower septal rupture.(She belonged to type 3 of the above scheme)

)

Note the septal rupture is visible even in 2D Echo

 

Color flow showing significant shunting from LV to RV.This shunt depends upon the LV contractile function, LVEDP and ofcourse the RV pressure

 

If there is severe RV dysfunction or bi ventricular dysfunction flow across the defect is inconspicuous.Brisk left to right shunting may be an indirect marker for good LV systolic function and absence of significant pulmonary hypertension.Both imply a better outcome.

The main determinant  of survival is the  underlying LV dysfunction and associated co morbidity(Renal function ) and complications .

Infero -posterior ruptures tend to be complex and  may have multiple irregular tracks  that makes it difficult to repair.

Investigations

Echo cardiogram is the mainstay .Serial echos should be done to assess the mechanical function and the progress of VSR.Hemodynamic monitoring may be done without injuring the patient .

Medical management

  • Often supportive , but  effective . Dobutamine infusion can maintain a life for few days.
  • Paradoxically , LV dysfunction and elevated LVEDP restricts volume overloading of VSD.
  • Associated MR, Arrhythmias  need to be taken care of .

Surgeons role

  • Very Vital.
  • Experience counts.(Individual as well as  Institutional )

Timing of surgery

Continues to be a controversy . Surgeons love to operate in a stable patient. But they need to realise , surgery is often needed to stabilise  many  patients. . The issue of tissue friability  is blown out of proportion in the literature .When a  life is  is at danger we can not worry about  friable tissues !

The rule of thumb could be

  • Operate as early as possible in unstable patient.
  • Post pone surgery in stable patient as late as possible ( Late here means . . .elective non emergent surgery )

Surgical options

  • Simple VSR closure without  knowing coronary anatomy
  • Simple VSR closure after knowing coronary anatomy
  • VSR closure with CABG ( total revascularization)
  • VSR closure with partial revascularization

In our experience  each of the above , has a role in a given patient depending upon the logistic , financial , social and even  the available expertise. (A good surgeon in bad Institution !)

Is coronary angiogram mandatory  before attempting to close VSR ?

Logically yes. If it is not available  just do not bother .  But, many times , when issue is saving lives , we can not afford to be too scientific , many lives have been saved by not following  such strict  protocols .A simple emergency  thoracotomy and closure of rupture site (Without even touching the LAD ) can be a distinct  and viable option in  a selected few .

Role of cardiologists

Contrary to the popular belief the role of cardiologists is minimal , except  to prepare  the patient and hand over to the surgeon.

Interventional approach to close  a VSR  is currently  be termed as an  adventurous option ! The VSRs  can assume unpredictable shapes  and the  tears can be multiple  in  different planes. The devices , catheters and  other hard ware are not specifically made to tackle these  issues  .An acquired VSR  should never be compared with congenital VSD.


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