Long-term results of the lateral tunnel Fontan operation

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2001 Jan;121(1):28-41. doi: 10.1067/mtc.2001.111422.


Objectives: Completion of a total cavopulmonary anastomosis with an intra-atrial lateral tunnel is known to yield good early and midterm results. In this study, we sought to determine the long-term outcome (10 years) after a lateral tunnel Fontan procedure.

Methods: Between October 1987 and December 1991, 220 patients (aged 11 months to 32 years) with a wide range of underlying diagnoses underwent a fenestrated or nonfenestrated lateral tunnel Fontan procedure at our institution. Current follow-up information was available for 196 patients (94%, mean follow-up = 10.2 +/- 0.6 years). Risk factor analysis included patient-related and procedure-related variables, with death, failure, and bradyarrhythmia or tachyarrhythmia as outcome parameters.

Results: There were 12 early deaths (<30 days or hospital death), 7 late deaths, 4 successful takedown operations, and 4 heart transplantations. Kaplan-Meier estimated survival was 93% at 5 years and 91% at 10 years, and freedom from failure was 90% at 5 years and 87% at 10 years. Freedom from new supraventricular tachyarrhythmia was 96% at 5 years and 91% at 10 years; freedom from new bradyarrhythmia was 88% at 5 years and 79% at 10 years. Three patients had evidence of protein-losing enteropathy. Multivariable risk factors for development of supraventricular tachyarrhythmia included heterotaxy syndrome, atrioventricular valve abnormalities, and preoperative bradyarrhythmia. Risk factors for bradyarrhythmia included systemic venous anomalies. The sole risk factor for late failure was a previous coarctation repair.

Conclusion: The lateral tunnel Fontan procedure results in excellent long-term outcome even when used in patients with diverse anatomic diagnoses. The incidence of atrial tachyarrhythmia is low and mainly depends on the underlying cardiac morphology and preoperative arrhythmia. The good long-term outcome after an intracardiac lateral tunnel Fontan procedure should serve as a basis for comparison with other surgical alternatives.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fontan Procedure* / adverse effects
  • Fontan Procedure* / methods
  • Fontan Procedure* / mortality
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / mortality
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / physiopathology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Tachycardia / etiology
  • Tachycardia / mortality
  • Ventricular Pressure