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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Phrenic nerve damage via a right thoracotomy in older children with secundum ASD.

Phrenic nerve damage (PND) in children after cardiac operations is now recognized as being more frequent than previously thought. In a prospective study on 400 children, we previously demonstrated electrophysiologic evidence of postoperative PND in approximately 16% of patients, with one third of cases occurring in children under 18 months. In the past 18 months, 30 children have had atrial septal defect ( ASD) repairs as their only operative procedure. Fourteen children had ASD repairs via a midline incision, and 16 ASD repairs were via a right thoracotomy. No PND (assessed by phrenic nerve latency) was found after a midline approach. In the right thoracotomy group, 5 children had evidence of PND (31%; p = 0.05). Four of these 5 patients were female and more than 14 years of age. The incidence of damage in this pubescent group was 80% (p < 0.05). In the older age group the duration of ventilation was not prolonged, but affected patients had symptoms of fatigue and breathlessness postoperatively. These data suggest a strong association between right thoracotomies for ASD repairs and PND, especially in the female pubescent group when a low submammary skin incision (seventh to eighth space) is used with a fifth to sixth space entry into the thoracic cavity. In conclusion, the right thoracotomy approach for ASD repair appears to be a significant risk factor for PND in older children.[1]


  1. Phrenic nerve damage via a right thoracotomy in older children with secundum ASD. Helps, B.A., Ross-Russell, R.I., Dicks-Mireaux, C., Elliott, M.J. Ann. Thorac. Surg. (1993) [Pubmed]
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