The Jatene procedure is a type of surgery used to correct a serious congenital heart condition called transposition of the great arteries. It was developed by a Canadian doctor named William Mustart and first used by a Brazilian physician, Adib Jatene. When performed successfully, the procedure can ensure a normal life for a newborn baby.
Though the procedure is relatively simple, it is open heart surgery that is not without risks. Generally, the surgery is performed on newborns who are between eight and 14 days old. It has a 70 to 90 percent success rate, if it is performed within the optimal window, and can restore heart function for the rest of the patient’s life.
The first step in the Jatene procedure is to give the patient preventative medication, such as antibiotics and medications that reduce bleeding and swelling. Once the patient is prepped for surgery, he or she is hooked up to a cardiopulmonary bypass machine. After blood is directed out of the body, the heart can be operated on.
The aorta and pulmonary vein are separated from one other, and then each is cut a small distance above the heart. The blood vessels are then reconnected. The base of the aorta is sewed onto the pulmonary artery, and the base of the pulmonary artery is sewed onto the aorta. Upon completion of the Jatene procedure, these vessels are each attached to the correct side of the heart.
The rare, congenital disorder called transposition of the great arteries is a mismatch of the large blood vessels that branch off of the heart. In normal anatomy, blood leaves the heart through the pulmonary artery, on its way to the lungs and through the aorta, on its way to the rest of the body. The pulmonary artery is connected to the heart through the left ventricle and the aorta through the right. When transposed, the aorta is connected to the left ventricle and the pulmonary artery to the right.
The heart of an infant with transposition of the great arteries pumps blood that is low in oxygen throughout the body. The blood still travels into the body through the aorta, but the blood has not recently picked up oxygen from the lungs. The Jatene procedure was developed in order to restore proper blood flow and save the lives of these newborns.