Effect of ventricular volume before unloading in a systemic ventricle supporting the Fontan circulation

Am J Cardiol. 2011 Feb 1;107(3):459-65. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2010.09.046.


The influence of volume overload on ventricular performance has been previously investigated but primarily with respect to the duration of overload. The aim of the present study was to elucidate whether the magnitude of the preoperative volume overload, represented by the ventricular volume, has any effect on ventricular performance long after the Fontan operation in patients with tricuspid atresia. We evaluated consecutive changes in hemodynamic catheterization data obtained at 1, 5, and 10 years after primary Fontan repair. The variables were compared between patients with larger (n = 20) and smaller (n = 21) ventricles (preoperative end-diastolic volume [percentage of predicted] 262 ± 33%, maximum 320% vs 182 ± 22%, minimum 133%, respectively). In a subgroup of patients (n = 33) who underwent symptom-limited exercise at 10.7 ± 3.0 postoperative years, the peak oxygen uptake was measured, and the potential predictors were interrogated. The difference in ventricular contractility between the groups tended to increase with time, with those with a larger ventricle showing poorer contraction, irrespective of whether it was assessed in a load-dependent (ejection fraction) or load-independent (end-systolic elastance) manner. The differences in these variables reached statistical significance at 10 years (p = 0.028 and p = 0.032). Multivariate analysis indicated a larger ventricle was an independent risk factor of poorer aerobic capacity (p = 0.047). In conclusion, ventricular performance was less preserved in those with a larger ventricle, which might result in suboptimal aerobic capacity. Our findings suggest not only early unloading, but also avoidance of excessive volume overload is of importance to minimize the deleterious effect of volume overload on an inherently susceptible ventricle.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Catheterization
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diastole / physiology
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Fontan Procedure*
  • Heart Ventricles / pathology*
  • Heart Ventricles / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myocardial Contraction / physiology
  • Organ Size
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Time Factors
  • Tricuspid Atresia / physiopathology*
  • Tricuspid Atresia / surgery*