Predictive modeling of the virtual Hemi-Fontan operation for second stage single ventricle palliation: two patient-specific cases

J Biomech. 2013 Jan 18;46(2):423-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2012.10.023. Epub 2012 Nov 20.


Single ventricle hearts are congenital cardiovascular defects in which the heart has only one functional pumping chamber. The treatment for these conditions typically requires a three-staged operative process where Stage 1 is typically achieved by a shunt between the systemic and pulmonary arteries, and Stage 2 by connecting the superior venous return to the pulmonary circulation. Surgically, the Stage 2 circulation can be achieved through a procedure called the Hemi-Fontan, which reconstructs the right atrium and pulmonary artery to allow for an enlarged confluence with the superior vena cava. Based on pre-operative data obtained from two patients prior to Stage 2 surgery, we developed two patient-specific multi-scale computational models, each including the 3D geometrical model of the surgical junction constructed from magnetic resonance imaging, and a closed-loop systemic lumped-parameter network derived from clinical measurements. "Virtual" Hemi-Fontan surgery was performed on the 3D model with guidance from clinical surgeons, and a corresponding multi-scale simulation predicts the patient's post-operative hemodynamic and physiologic conditions. For each patient, a post-operative active scenario with an increase in the heart rate (HR) and a decrease in the pulmonary and systemic vascular resistance (PVR and SVR) was also performed. Results between the baseline and this "active" state were compared to evaluate the hemodynamic and physiologic implications of changing conditions. Simulation results revealed a characteristic swirling vortex in the Hemi-Fontan in both patients, with flow hugging the wall along the SVC to Hemi-Fontan confluence. One patient model had higher levels of swirling, recirculation, and flow stagnation. However, in both models, the power loss within the surgical junction was less than 13% of the total power loss in the pulmonary circulation, and less than 2% of the total ventricular power. This implies little impact of the surgical junction geometry on the SVC pressure, cardiac output, and other systemic parameters. In contrast, varying HR, PVR, and SVR led to significant changes in theses clinically relevant global parameters. Adopting a work-flow of customized virtual planning of the Hemi-Fontan procedure with patient-specific data, this study demonstrates the ability of multi-scale modeling to reproduce patient specific flow conditions under differing physiological states. Results demonstrate that the same operation performed in two different patients can lead to different hemodynamic characteristics, and that modeling can be used to uncover physiologic changes associated with different clinical conditions.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fontan Procedure / instrumentation
  • Fontan Procedure / methods*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital* / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Defects, Congenital* / physiopathology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital* / surgery
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Pulmonary Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Artery / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Artery / surgery
  • Radiography
  • Vena Cava, Superior / diagnostic imaging
  • Vena Cava, Superior / physiopathology
  • Vena Cava, Superior / surgery