Considerable improvements have been made in the diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart disease during the last decade. Many congenital heart lesions are now treated successfully during the neonatal period that previously were associated with high mortality. Improved echocardiographic imaging, catheterization techniques, and earlier surgical repair are factors that have resulted in greater success in the treatment of congenital cardiac disease. Diagnosis has been improved greatly with advancements in echocardiography and angiography. Better ultrasound technology combined with doppler techniques and transesophageal echocardiography allow more accurate preoperative assessment and therefore more successful surgical repair. Cardiac catheterization techniques have also improved and, when combined with treatment such as balloon angioplasty, have changed the treatment of certain cardiac anomalies such as pulmonary stenosis or coarctation of the aorta. Operative treatment of congenital heart disease has improved the short- and long-term survival of most infants with congenital cardiac anomalies. Improved cardiopulmonary bypass techniques, better suture material, and the ability to perform cardiac transplantation are examples of technology that allows earlier, more complete repair of these complex cardiac defects. Reviewed here are improvements in the treatment of four complex cardiac anomalies that occur in newborns and are associated with high mortality when left untreated. All four anomalies have undergone significant changes in the approach to their treatment with dramatic improvements in survival.
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