Effect of aspirin and warfarin therapy on thromboembolic events in patients with univentricular hearts and Fontan palliation

Int J Cardiol. 2013 Oct 9;168(4):3940-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2013.06.058. Epub 2013 Jul 17.


Background: Patients with univentricular hearts and Fontan palliation are at risk for thromboembolic complications. While aspirin and warfarin therapies are currently the mainstay of prophylaxis, controversy exists as to the optimal prevention strategy.

Methods: A cohort study was conducted on the New England registry of patients born in 1985 or earlier with Fontan surgery at Boston Children's Hospital, in order to assess and compare the effect of prophylactic aspirin and warfarin on incident thromboembolic events.

Results: A total of 210 qualifying patients (49% male) underwent Fontan surgery at a median age of 8.5 years: 48.6% had a right atrium to pulmonary artery anastomosis, 11% a right atrium to right ventricle conduit, 38.6% a lateral tunnel, and 1.9% an extracardiac conduit. No thromboembolic prophylaxis was prescribed to 50.0%, whereas 24.3% received aspirin, and 25.7% warfarin. In multivariate analyses, lack of aspirin or warfarin was associated with a significantly higher thromboembolic event rate when compared to therapy with either [hazard ratio 8.5, 95% confidence interval (3.6-19.9), P < 0.001], with no difference between the two treatment strategies (P = 0.768). Twenty-year freedom from thromboemboli was 86% versus 52% in patients with and without thromboprophylaxis, respectively. Other factors independently associated with thromboemboli were a low post-operative cardiac index [hazard ratio 2.6, 95% confidence interval (1.2, 5.9)] and atrial fibrillation or flutter [hazard ratio 3.1, 95% confidence interval (1.2, 8.0)].

Conclusions: Prophylaxis with either aspirin or warfarin was associated with a significantly lower rate of incident thromboembolic events following Fontan palliation, with no difference between the two therapies.

Keywords: Anticoagulation; Aspirin; Fontan; Thromboembolism; Thrombus; Warfarin.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aspirin / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fontan Procedure / adverse effects*
  • Fontan Procedure / trends
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / epidemiology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery*
  • Heart Ventricles / abnormalities
  • Heart Ventricles / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Registries
  • Thromboembolism / drug therapy*
  • Thromboembolism / epidemiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Warfarin / therapeutic use*


  • Warfarin
  • Aspirin