Variation in the Management of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn: A Survey of Physicians in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand
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BACKGROUND: Despite advances in management of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), the risk of mortality and adverse neurological sequelae remains high. Characterizing variation in practices is a crucial step toward improved patient outcome. OBJECTIVE: Evaluate intensive care practices in Canada and the Australia-New Zealand region (AUS-NZ). METHODS: A prospective cross-sectional online survey of neonatologists was conducted. A 35-item questionnaire was developed, validated, and piloted to collect information on diagnosis, inhaled nitric oxide (iNO) practices, alternative vasodilators or cardiotropes, and echocardiography. Variation among survey respondents as well as intergroup comparison was performed. RESULTS: Data were collected from 217 respondents. Echocardiography and arterial blood gas were the most common diagnostic tests to assess the severity of PPHN. iNO administration is more frequently scrutinized in Canada (36% versus 10% [AUS-NZ], p < 0.001). Canadian physicians reported higher use of intravenous milrinone (p < 0.001), vasopressin (p = 0.02), and inhaled prostacyclin (p = 0.02), but lower use of sildenafil (p = 0.01) for refractory pulmonary hypertension. A greater proportion of neonatologists in AUS-NZ were trained to perform echocardiography (p < 0.001) to optimize treatment decisions. CONCLUSION: Wide variation exists in the management of PPHN. There is a need to provide more guidance regarding principles of management in PPHN, while recognizing the dynamic nature of cardiopulmonary physiology in individual patients.
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