Background: The objective of this randomized clinical trial was to investigate the effects of perfusion modalities on cerebral hemodynamics, vital organ injury, quantified by the Pediatric Logistic Organ Dysfunction-2 (PELOD-2) Score, and clinical outcomes in risk-stratified congenital cardiac surgery patients. Methods: This randomized clinical trial included 159 consecutive congenital cardiac surgery patients in whom pulsatile (n = 83) or nonpulsatile (n = 76) perfusion was used. Cerebral hemodynamics were assessed using transcranial Doppler ultrasound. Multiple organ injury was quantified using the PELOD-2 score at 24, 48, and 72 hours. Clinical outcomes, including intubation time, intensive care unit length of stay (LOS), hospital LOS, and mortality, were also evaluated. Results: The Pulsatility Index at the middle cerebral artery and in the arterial line during aortic cross-clamping was consistently better maintained in the pulsatile group. Demographics and cardiopulmonary bypass characteristics were similar between the 2 groups. While risk stratification with The Society of Thoracic Surgeons-European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (STAT) Mortality Categories was similar between the groups, Mortality Categories 1 to 3 demonstrated more patients than Mortality Categories 4 and 5. There were no differences in clinical outcomes between the groups. The PELOD-2 scores showed a progressive improvement from 24 hours to 72 hours, but the results were not statistically different between the groups. Conclusions: The Pulsatillity Index for the pulsatile group demonstrated a more physiologic pattern compared with the nonpulsatile group. While pulsatile perfusion did not increase plasma-free hemoglobin levels or microemboli delivery, it also did not demonstrate any improvements in clinical outcomes or PELOD-2 scores, suggesting that while pulsatile perfusion is a safe method, it not a “magic bullet” for congenital cardiac operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
StatePublished - Oct 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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