Coronary artery fistulas in infants and children: A surgical review and discussion of coil embolization

Constantine Mavroudis*, Carl L. Backer, Albert P. Rocchini, Alexander J. Muster, Melanie Gevitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

293 Scopus citations


Background. Coronary artery fistula (CAF) is a rare congenital anomaly that can be complicated by intracardiac shunts, endocarditis, myocardial infarction, or coronary aneurysms. Recent reports have emphasized the efficacy of percutaneous transcatheter techniques. The purpose of this article is to review a 28-year surgical experience with CAF as a standard for comparison and to discuss the emergence and efficacy of transcutaneous catheter coil embolization as an alternative form of therapy. Methods. From 1968 to 1996, 17 patients (age, 6 weeks to 16.5 years; mean age, 5.5 years) were diagnosed with CAF: 8 of 12 by echocardiography and 17 of 17 by cardiac catheterization. All patients with isolated CAF (n = 13) were asymptomatic despite significant clinical, electrocardiographic, and chest roentgenographic findings in 10. Sixteen had congenital CAF and 1 had acquired CAF after tetralogy of Fallot repair with injury of the anomalous left anterior descending coronary artery. Associated anomalies included tetralogy of Fallot (2), atrial septal defect (1), and patent ductus arteriosus (1). Nine fistulas originated from the right coronary artery and eight from the left. Drainage was to the right ventricle (9), right atrium (4), pulmonary artery (3), and left atrium (1). Results. All patients had a median sternotomy with epicardial or endocardial ligation. Cardiopulmonary bypass was used in 8; 1 of these (iatrogenic CAF) required distal internal mammary artery bypass graft. There were no operative or late deaths. Follow- up evaluation by physical examination (17), echocardiography (8), and catheterization (2) showed no evidence of recurrent or residual CAF. A retrospective review of the 16 available cine cardioangiograms showed that coil embolization was possible in, at most, 6 patients. Conclusions. Early surgical management of CAF is a safe and effective treatment resulting in 100% survival and 100% closure rate. Transcatheter embolization is a reasonable alternative to standard surgical closure in only a very small, select group of patients. These surgical results should be considered the standard against which transcatheter techniques are compared.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1235-1242
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Surgery


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