Pulmonary and caval blood flow patterns in patients with intracardiac and extracardiac Fontan: a magnetic resonance study

Clin Res Cardiol. 2007 Mar;96(3):160-7. doi: 10.1007/s00392-007-0470-z. Epub 2006 Dec 22.


Aims: We compared in vivo blood flow and pulsatility after different types of Fontan operation using magnetic resonance imaging.

Material and methods: A total of 37 consecutive patients (mean age 19+/-7.9 years, 7.3+/-3.2 years after Fontan operation), 7 with atriopulmonary anastomosis (APC), 18 with intra-atrial lateral tunnel (LTFO) and 12 with extracardiac Fontan (ECFO) were studied using magnetic resonance phase-contrast velocity mapping. Blood flow (volume flow) in the superior vena cava (SVC), inferior vena cava (IVC) and both pulmonary arteries were measured and a pulsatility index was calculated for each vessel.

Results: For all modifications, the blood flow distribution between the SVC and IVC was normal (1:2). Patients with APC had a normal pulsatility, a dilated right atrium, partial backward flow in the IVC and physiological blood flow distribution between the pulmonary arteries. LTFO and ECFO patients had no retrograde flow in the IVC, equal blood flow distribution between the pulmonary arteries and very low or absent pulsatility.

Conclusions: MRI allows hemodynamic quantification and characterization of various types of Fontan modifications and may be a valuable tool to predict Fontan failure. Despite showing normal pulsatility, patients with APC have right atrial dilatation and partial backward flow in the IVC, demonstrating suboptimal Fontan circulation. LTFO and ECFO both produce unidirectional antegrade flow in the IVC but pulsatility is very low or absent, which may promote poor pulmonary artery growth and increase of pulmonary vascular resistance contributing to late Fontan failure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fontan Procedure / methods*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / physiopathology*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Male
  • Postoperative Period
  • Pulmonary Artery* / surgery
  • Pulmonary Circulation*
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Vena Cava, Inferior* / surgery
  • Vena Cava, Superior* / surgery