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Transporting newborn infants with suspected duct dependent congenital heart disease on low-dose prostaglandin E1 without routine mechanical ventilation
  1. Kathryn A Browning Carmo1,
  2. Peter Barr2,
  3. Maureen West1,
  4. Neil W Hopper1,
  5. Jennifer P White1,
  6. Nadia Badawi2
  1. 1New South Wales newborn and paediatric Emergency Transport Service, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  2. 2The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr P Barr
    Department of Neonatology, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Locked Bag 4001,Westmead, NSW, 2145, Australia; peter{at}


Aim: To evaluate the safety of transporting newborn infants with suspected duct dependent congenital heart disease (CHD) treated with prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) without routine mechanical ventilation.

Methods: A retrospective population-based audit of newborn infants with suspected CHD transported on PGE1 by the New South Wales newborn and paediatric Transport Service from 1995 through 2005.

Results: Mechanical ventilation was not used prior to treatment with PGE1 in 94 (31%) of the 300 infants. The indications for mechanical ventilation in the remaining 206 infants (69%) included elective mechanical ventilation because of the intention to use PGE1 (n  =  125) and severe hypoxaemia, acidosis or cardiorespiratory failure prior to commencing PGE1 (n  =  81). 16 (17%) of the 94 infants who were not ventilated initially required mechanical ventilation before transport because of apnoea, which developed within one hour of commencing PGE1. 2 (2.6%) of the 78 infants transported without mechanical ventilation developed apnoea in transit and both were receiving ⩾15 ng/kg/min of PGE1. Apnoea was more likely to occur in non-ventilated infants when the PGE1 infusion rate was ⩾15 ng/kg/min compared with <15 ng/kg/min (14/33 vs 4/61, χ2  =  15.55, p<.001).

Conclusions: Newborn infants with suspected duct dependent CHD treated with low dose PGE1 (<15 ng/kg/min) may not require mechanical ventilation for safe transport.

  • CHD, congenital heart disease
  • PGE1, prostaglandin E1

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  • Published Online First 11 August 2006

  • Funding: The study received no financial support.

  • Competing interests: none.

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