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.