Improved early results with the Fontan operation in adults with functional single ventricle

Ann Thorac Surg. 2004 Apr;77(4):1334-40. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2003.10.011.


Background: A growing number of adults with functional single ventricles are presenting as candidates for first-time and redo-Fontan operations. This study describes the clinical presentation and early operative results of adults who have undergone Fontan modifications.

Methods: Between July 1995 and April 2003, 23 patients (>18 years old) had Fontan operations. We retrospectively reviewed their perioperative courses.

Results: Twenty-three Fontan operations (first-time [n = 8] and redo [n = 15]) were performed with no early or late deaths. No patient has required reoperation. One patient has been listed for orthotopic heart transplantation. The overall mean age is 23 years (18 to 41 years); mean follow-up, 30 months; median postoperative hospital stay, 8 days (4 to 34 days); and median duration of chest tube drainage, 4 days (2 to 12 days). The postoperative New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class was improved in 22 of 23 patients. Eight first-time Fontan operations (7 of 8 nonfenestrated) were performed; lateral tunnel (n = 7) and extracardiac conduit (n = 1). Two patients had preoperative arrhythmias. New onset arrhythmias (ventricular tachycardia and sinus node dysfunction), requiring treatment, occurred in two patients. Fifteen redo-Fontan operations (all nonfenestrated) were performed; lateral tunnel (n = 5) and extracardiac conduit (n = 10). Fifteen patients had preoperative arrhythmias, thirteen of which had intraatrial reentry tachycardia (IART) and required antiarrhythmic medications. Concomitant intraoperative radiofrequency ablation (RFA) (n = 11) and cryoablation (n = 1) procedures were performed. In the immediate postoperative period, there was IART recurrence in five patients (post-RFA [n = 4] and postcryoablation [n = 1]). At latest follow-up, no patient is being treated with antiarrhythmic medications. Two patients had new onset atrial arrhythmias that required treatment.

Conclusions: The Fontan operation can be performed in adults with minimal morbidity and improved NYHA functional class. New onset arrhythmias requiring treatment are sources of perioperative morbidity. Complete arrhythmia resolution of the preoperative arrhythmia may not be achieved in the immediate postoperative period in redo-Fontan patients. However, modification (intraoperative radiofrequency ablation-right atrial debulking) of the atrial tachycardia circuits in the redo-Fontan patients can result in complete resolution of preoperative atrial tachyarrhythmias at early follow-up.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / complications
  • Echocardiography
  • Fontan Procedure*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / pathology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery
  • Heart Ventricles / abnormalities*
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome