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Clinical course and medical management of neonates with severe cardiac failure related to vein of Galen malformation
  1. G P Frawley,
  2. P A Dargaville,
  3. P J Mitchell,
  4. B M Tress,
  5. P Loughnan
  1. Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Children’s Hospital, Parkville, Victoria 3052, NSW, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Frawley, Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Children’s Hospital, Parkville, Victoria 3052, NSW, Australia;


Background: Neonatal presentation of vein of Galen aneurysmal malformations (VGAMs) with intractable cardiac failure is considered a poor prognostic sign. Interventional neuroradiology with embolisation has been shown to control cardiac failure, but there is a perception that neurological outcome in survivors is poor.

Objective: To determine if aggressive intensive care and anaesthetic management of cardiac failure before urgent embolisation can influence morbidity and mortality.

Patients: Nine newborns (four boys, five girls) were diagnosed with symptomatic vein of Galen malformations in the neonatal period during the period 1996–2001. Eight developed intractable high output cardiac failure requiring initial endovascular treatment in the first week of life.

Results: The immediate outcome after a series of endovascular procedures was control of cardiac failure and normal neurological function in six (66%) patients, one death from intractable cardiac failure in the neonatal period, and two late deaths with severe hypoxic-ischaemic neurological injury (33% mortality). Clinical review at 6 months to 4 years of age showed five infants with no evidence of neurological abnormality or cardiac failure and one child with mild developmental delay (11%).

Conclusions: Aggressive medical treatment of cardiac failure and early neurointervention combined with modern neuroanaesthetic care results in good survival rates with low morbidity even in cases of high risk VGAM presenting in the immediate perinatal period with cardiac failure. Systemic arterial vasodilators improve outcome in neonates with cardiac failure secondary to VGAM. Excessive β adrenergic stimulation induced by conventional inotropic agents may exacerbate systemic hypoperfusion.

  • cardiac failure
  • heart
  • vein of Galen malformation
  • embolisation
  • VGAM, vein of Galen aneurysmal malformation
  • AVM, arteriovenous malformation
  • MOF, multisystem organ failure
  • CT, computed tomography

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