Conotruncal Heart Defect Repair in Sub-Saharan Africa: Remarkable Outcomes Despite Poor Access to Treatment.

Background:
The outcome of children born with conotruncal heart defects may serve as an indication of the status of pediatric cardiac care in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This study was undertaken to determine the outcome of children born with conotruncal anomalies in SSA, regarding access to treatment and outcomes of surgical intervention.

Methods:
From our institution in Ghana, we retrospectively analyzed the outcomes of surgery, in the two-year period from June 2013 to May 2015. The birth prevalence of congenital heart defects (CHDs) in SSA countries was derived by extrapolation using an incidence of 8 per 1,000 live births for CHDs.

Results:
The birth prevalence of CHDs for the 48 countries in SSA using 2013 country data was 258,875; 10% of these are presumed to be conotruncal anomalies. Six countries (Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya) accounted for 53.5% of the birth prevalence. In Ghana, 20 patients (tetralogy of Fallot [TOF], 17; pulmonary atresia, 3) underwent palliation and 50 (TOF, 36; double-outlet right ventricle, 14) underwent repair. Hospital mortality was 0% for palliation and 4% for repair. Only 6 (0.5%) of the expected 1,234 cases of conotruncal defects underwent palliation or repair within two years of birth.

Conclusion:
Six countries in SSA account for more than 50% of the CHD burden. Access to treatment within two years of birth is probably <1%. The experience from Ghana demonstrates that remarkable surgical outcomes are achievable in low- to middle-income countries of SSA.