In a population of patients after successful heart surgery for congenital heart defects (CHD) might emerge noncardiac morbidities. Malfunction of the respiratory system (RS) including chest wall deformities (CWD) may represent risk for a long-term functional performance and QoL of these subjects. This review aims for the long-term (abnormal pulmonary hemodynamics prior to surgery) or short-term (e.g. thoracotomy) harmful impacts on the developing RS. CHD with redundant lung recoil may induce dramatic worsening of the mechanical properties of the RS. Despite successful repair of CHD harmful and successive adaptive processes may affect future development of the RS. Surgical treatment of CHD requires thoracic wall incision (median sternotomy or lateral thoracotomy), which currently with other perioperative impacts may represent unfavourable formation of CWD. Surprisingly, heart surgery itself does not lead either to an improvement or marked change in the severity or frequency of preoperative lung abnormalities (mostly lung volume restriction, hyperinflation, stiff lung or airway obstruction). Causes of RS dysfunction and CWD in patients after surgical repair of CHD are multifactorial. Therefore, a management of these abnormalities especially in adult and aged CHD is difficult. The early primary repair of CHD and recent interventional approaches (e.g., superior ministernotomy or usage of Amplatz occluder) may provide advantages regarding developing organ systems and prevent secondary changes of the heart and the RS. Further research should focus on individual factors in the development of CWD and postoperative respiratory changes. Long-term and/or probably permanent follow up of subjects after CHD repair is a must.
Keywords: Congenital heart defects, abnormal pulmonary blood flow, heart surgery, lung dysfunction, chest wall deformities, long-term follow-up, Respiratory System, noncardiac morbidities, pulmonary function tests, scoliosis
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