Evaluation of a novel Y-shaped extracardiac Fontan baffle using computational fluid dynamics

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2009 Feb;137(2):394-403.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2008.06.043.


Objectives: The objective of this work is to evaluate the hemodynamic performance of a new Y-graft modification of the extracardiac conduit Fontan operation. The performance of the Y-graft design is compared to two designs used in current practice: a t-junction connection of the venae cavae and an offset between the inferior and superior venae cavae.

Methods: The proposed design replaces the current tube grafts used to connect the inferior vena cava to the pulmonary arteries with a Y-shaped graft. Y-graft hemodynamics were evaluated at rest and during exercise with a patient-specific model from magnetic resonance imaging data together with computational fluid dynamics. Four clinically motivated performance measures were examined: Fontan pressures, energy efficiency, inferior vena cava flow distribution, and wall shear stress. Two variants of the Y-graft were evaluated: an "off-the-shelf" graft with 9-mm branches and an "area-preserving" graft with 12-mm branches.

Results: Energy efficiency of the 12-mm Y-graft was higher than all other models at rest and during exercise, and the reduction in efficiency from rest to exercise was improved by 38%. Both Y-graft designs reduced superior vena cava pressures during exercise by as much as 5 mm Hg. The Y-graft more equally distributed the inferior vena cava flow to both lungs, whereas the offset design skewed 70% of the flow to the left lung. The 12-mm graft resulted in slightly larger regions of low wall shear stress than other models; however, minimum shear stress values were similar.

Conclusions: The area-preserving 12-mm Y-graft is a promising modification of the Fontan procedure that should be clinically evaluated. Further work is needed to correlate our performance metrics with clinical outcomes, including exercise intolerance, incidence of protein-losing enteropathy, and thrombus formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis
  • Computer-Aided Design
  • Fontan Procedure / instrumentation
  • Fontan Procedure / methods*
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Models, Cardiovascular
  • Prosthesis Design
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Rheology
  • Vena Cava, Inferior / physiopathology
  • Vena Cava, Superior / physiopathology