With advances in surgical and catheter-based interventions and technologies in patients with congenital heart disease (CHD), the practice of pediatric cardiac anesthesiology has evolved in parallel with pediatric cardiac surgery and pediatric cardiology as a distinct subspecialty over the past 80 years. To date, there has not been an analysis of the distribution of pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists relative to cardiac and noncardiac procedures in the pediatric population. The primary aim is to report the results of a survey and its subsequent analysis to describe the distribution of pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists relative to pediatric cardiac procedures that include surgical interventions, cardiac catheterization procedures, imaging studies (echocardiography, magnetic resonance, computed tomography, positron emission tomography), and noncardiac procedures.
A survey developed in Research Electronic Data Capture (REDcap) was sent to the identifiable division chiefs/cardiac directors of 113 pediatric cardiac anesthesia programs in the United States. Data regarding cardiac surgical patients and procedures were collected from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Congenital Heart Surgery Database (STS-CHD).
This analysis reveals that only 38% (117 of 307) of pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists caring for patients with CHD pursued additional training in pediatric cardiac anesthesiology, while 44% (136 of 307) have gained experience during their clinical practice. Other providers have pursued different training pathways such as adult cardiac anesthesiology or pediatric critical care. Based on this survey, pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists devote 35% (interquartile range [IQR], 20%–50%) of clinical time to the care of patients in the cardiac operating room, 25% (20%–35%) of time to the care of patients in the cardiac catheterization laboratory, 10% (5%–10%) to patient care in imaging locations, and 15% covering general pediatric, adult, or cardiac patients undergoing noncardiac procedures. Attempts to actively recruit pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists were reported by 49.2% (29 of 59) of the institutions surveyed. Impending retirement of staff was anticipated in 17% (10 of 59) of the institutions, while loss of staff to relocation was anticipated in 3.4% (2 of 59) of institutions. Thirty-seven percent of institutions reported that they anticipated no immediate changes in current staffing levels.
The majority of currently practicing pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists have not completed a fellowship training in the subspecialty. There is, and will continue to be, a need for subspecialty training to meet increasing demand for services especially with increase survival of this patient population and to replace retiring members of the workforce.