Infants born with a critically underdeveloped heart have better chances of surviving when treated with a new shunt procedure, according to new research.

The study, presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2009, compared right ventricle to pulmonary artery (RV-to-PA) shunt and the modified Blalock-Taussig shunt (MBTS) procedures in 555 infants.

After a year of analysis, the study found that 74% of infants survived on RV-to-PA shunt without requiring a heart transplant compared to 64% on MBTS.

The RV-to-PA shunt, however, had more complications than the MBTS group, resulting in 240 interventions, researchers said.

The Norwood RV-to-PA Procedure includes a connection to deliver blood from the heart to the pulmonary arteries feeding the lungs so that blood can pick up oxygen.

The MBTS procedure connects the aorta, the major blood vessel delivering blood from the heart to the body, to the pulmonary artery.