Clinical improvement after revision in Fontan patients

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Background. Arrhythmias, decreased exercise tolerance, or malabsorption will develop in a significant number of Fontan patients. Fontan revision consisting of creation of lateral atrial tunnel, reconnection of the Glenn shunt when present, or both appears to improve these patients. Methods. Over a 34-month period, 9 patients underwent Fontan revision. The mean age was 11 ± 5 years and the mean interval from Fontan operation to revision was 3 ± 2 years. The reason for revision included marked impairment in exercise capacity, inability to go to school consistently, and chronic fatigue in 6 patients, 3 of whom also had serious atrial arrhythmias. Five of the 6 patients had a classic Glenn shunt. The mean right atrial pressure was greater than the pressure of the Glenn shunt (20 ± 1.6 versus 17 ± 0.8 mm Hg). Three of the 6 patients also showed a significant gradient between the right or left pulmonary artery wedge and ventricular end-diastolic pressure, indicating pulmonary vein obstruction from the bulging atrial septum or partitioning patch (13 ± 3 versus 6.8 ± 1 mm Hg). The remaining 3 patients had revision because of malabsorption (1), hepatomegaly and obstructed right pulmonary veins from bulging atrial septum (1), and tricuspid insufficiency (1). Fontan revision was accomplished with creation of a lateral atrial tunnel and Glenn reconnection in 6 patients, Glenn reconnection in 2, and creation of a lateral atrial tunnel in 1. Four patients had additional procedures. Results. One patient died of Pseudomonas pneumonia. Early extubation, chest tube removal, and postoperative hospital discharge were accomplished in 8 patients (mean = 1.4 ± 1, 2.8 ± 1, and 8 ± 3 days, respectively). One patient died 8 months postoperatively of brain damage after ventricular fibrillation from attempted cardioversion for atrial flutter. The remaining patients had marked improvement in exercise capacity with ability to consistently go to school, improvement in duration and tolerance to arrhythmias on less medication, and resolution of malabsorption up to 37 months postoperatively (mean, 20 ± 12 months). Conclusions. We conclude that creation of lateral atrial tunnel with excision of a bulging atrial septum or atrial partitioning patch that causes pulmonary venous obstruction, reconnection of the Glenn shunt, which allows better distribution of flow based on the pulmonary vascular bed and resistance of each lung, or a combination of these procedures will improve Fontan patients.




Vitullo, D. A., DeLeon, S. Y., Berry, T. E., Bonilla, J. J., Chhangani, S. V., Cetta, F., … Fisher, E. A. (1996). Clinical improvement after revision in Fontan patients. Annals of Thoracic Surgery, 61(6), 1797–1804.

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