Blalock-Taussig shunt: experience from the developing world

Document Type



Internal Medicine


Background: Palliative procedures have a role in congenital cardiac malformations that do not permit a complete early repair, and in centres where facilities for complete early repair do not exist. The lack of data on modified Blalock-Taussig shunt from developing countries prompted this analysis.

Methods: We report a retrospective study of 70 Blalock-Taussig shunt procedures in 63 patients over an 8-year period. Most of the procedures (54.0%) were done on children less than 4 months of age. Thirty-nine (58%) patients had Tetralogy of Fallot; the remaining patients had a wide spectrum of lesions.

Results: In the first year of the review period, the classical Blalock-Taussig shunt was done in six patients (9.5%) and the modified Blalock-Taussig shunt was used thereafter. In 49 patients who were followed up long term, clinical congestive cardiac failure developed in three (6%) and shunt failure was reported in 10 (14%). Of the 16 (33%) total deaths, six had serious comorbid conditions preoperatively.

CONCLUSIONS: The Blalock-Taussig shunt is a relatively safe palliative procedure, requiring fewer resources and less expertise than corrective surgery, making it a suitable option in developing countries.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Heart, Lung and Circulation