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Fifteen-minute consultation: Assessing the child with a Blalock-Taussig shunt who is unwell in a district general hospital
  1. Steven McVea1,
  2. Anne McGettrick2
  1. 1 Paediatric Intensive Care, Royal Hospital for Children Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2 Paediatric Critical Care, Royal Hospital for Children Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Steven McVea, ST7 Paediatric Intensive Care, Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow G51 4TF, UK; steven.mcvea{at}


Univentricular heart disease accounts for ~1.25% of all congenital heart disease. Such cases remain among the most challenging to manage, typically requiring a three-staged palliation. The first stage involves placement of a systemic to pulmonary shunt. While a variety of shunt types, including ductal stenting, can be used to manage univentricular conditions, the archetype remains the Blalock-Taussig (BT) shunt. While waiting future palliative intervention at home, intercurrent illness may necessitate presentation to a district general hospital where subspecialist advice and assessment is remote. This review aims to present the general paediatrician with a straightforward BT shunt physiology overview highlighting unique complications which may complicate intercurrent illness.

  • intensive care
  • cardiac surgery
  • cardiology
  • general paediatrics

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  • Contributors SM wrote, edited and revised the manuscript with review input from AM.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.