Pediatric Cardiology

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 283–289 | Cite as

Exercise Performance in Patients with D-Loop Transposition of the Great Arteries After Arterial Switch Operation: Long-Term Outcomes and Longitudinal Assessment

  • Joseph D. KueblerEmail author
  • Ming-Hui Chen
  • Mark E. Alexander
  • Jonathan Rhodes
Original Article


The first patients to undergo a successful arterial switch operation (ASO) for d-transposition of the great arteries (D-TGA) are now entering their fourth decade of life. Past studies of ASO survivors’ exercise function have yielded conflicting results. We therefore undertook this study to describe the current function of ASO survivors, to identify factors related to inferior exercise performance and to determine whether their exercise function tends to deteriorate over time. A retrospective cohort study was designed examining all patients with D-TGA after the ASO who underwent comprehensive cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET). Patients with palliative surgery prior to ASO, ventricular hypoplasia or severe valvar dysfunction were excluded from the study. Data from CPETs in which the peak respiratory exchange ratio was <1.09 were also excluded. We identified 113 patients who met entry criteria and had 186 CPX at our institution between 1/2002 and 1/2013; 41 patients had at least 2 qualifying CPX. Mean age at the time of the initial test was 17 ± 1 year. Peak oxygen consumption (VO2) averaged 84 ± 2 % predicted. Peak VO2 was lower among patients with repaired ventricular septal defects (82 ± 4 vs. 86 ± 3 % predicted; p < 0.05) and among patients with ≥ moderate right-sided obstructive lesions (77 ± 5 vs. 87 ± 3 % predicted; p < 0.05). Surgery prior to 1991 was also associated with a lower peak VO2 (81 ± 3 vs. 87 ± 3 % predicted; p < 0.01). The mean % predicted peak heart rate was 92 ± 1 %, with no significant difference between any of the subgroups. Non-diagnostic exercise-induced STT changes developed in 10 patients (12 studies). In the subgroup with at least 2 exercise tests, the annual decline in % predicted peak VO2 was quite slow (−0.3 % points/year; p < 0.01 vs. expected normal age-related decline). The exercise capacity of ASO survivors is well preserved and is only mildly reduced compared to normal subjects. Moreover, there is only a slight deterioration in exercise capacity over time. VSD repair, residual right-sided obstructive lesions, and earlier surgical era are associated with worse exercise performance. Peak heart rate was preserved with no significant change in follow up testing.


Congenital heart disease Transposition of the great arteries TGA Arterial switch operation Cardiopulmonary exercise testing 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the expert technical assistance of Tracy J. Curran, MS, Julieann O’Neill, MS, and Jennifer L. Smith, MS.


This work was supported in part by the Tommy Kaplan Fund for Cardiovascular Sciences.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph D. Kuebler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ming-Hui Chen
    • 1
  • Mark E. Alexander
    • 1
  • Jonathan Rhodes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of CardiologyBoston Children’s HospitalBostonUSA

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