Background: Timely extubation is a well-accepted strategy in the postoperative intensive care unit management of Fontan patients to minimize the deleterious effects of positive-pressure ventilation. In October 2002, this strategy was extended to extubating selective Fontan patients in the operating room (EOR). This retrospective study examines how EOR has affected outcomes and practice in our Fontan population.
Methods: Between October 2002 and June 2006, 112 patients underwent primary Fontan procedures; 38 (34%) were EOR and 74 (66%) were non-EOR. These two cohorts were not different (p < 0.05) in age, weight, surgery time, dominant ventricular morphology, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, prior bidirectional Glenn, concomitant procedures, atrioventricular valve regurgitation, and ventricular function. Analysis of variance was used to compare mean pulmonary artery pressure, mean arterial blood pressure, and mean common atrial pressure as a function of time.
Results: During the first 12 hours postoperatively, mean pulmonary artery pressure and mean common atrial pressure were significantly lower and mean arterial blood pressure was significantly higher in the EOR group than the non-EOR group (p < 0.05). No EOR patient required reintubation. Mean durations of inotropic agents (1.1 versus 2.4 days), chest tubes (5.8 versus 7.2 days), intensive care unit stay (3 versus 4.7 days), and hospital stay (8.6 versus 11.3 days) for EOR patients were shorter than for non-EOR patients (p < 0.05). Intensive care unit and hospital costs for EOR patients were 35% and 31% lower, respectively, than for non-EOR patients (p < 0.05). Kaplan-Meier survival for EOR patients (3 years, 100%) was not different (p = 0.3) than for non-EOR patients (1 and 3 years, 96%).
Conclusions: After the Fontan procedure, selective EOR can be performed safely and improves postoperative hemodynamics, decreases hospital resource utilization, and reduces hospital recovery time.