Aims: To quantitatively evaluate the basic pathophysiological process involved in the creation of Eisenmenger syndrome in pediatric pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) patients by either atrial septostomy (AS) or Potts shunt (PS) as well as to predict the effects of AS or PS in future PAH patients. Methods: The multi-scale lumped parameter CircAdapt model of the cardiovascular system was used to investigate the effects of AS and PS on cardiovascular hemodynamics and mechanics, as well as on oxygen saturation in moderate to severe PAH. The reference simulation, with cardiac output set to 2.1 l/min and mean systemic pressure to 61 mmHg, was used to create a compensated moderate PAH simulation with mPAP 50 mmHg. Thereupon we created a range of decompensated PAH simulations in which mPAP was stepwise increased from 50 to 80 mmHg. Then we simulated for each level of mPAP the acute effects of either PS or AS with connection diameters ranging between 0-16 mm. Results: For any mPAP level, the effect on shunt flow size is much larger for the PS than for AS. Whereas right ventricular pump work in PS is mainly dependent on mPAP, in AS it depends on both mPAP and the size of the defect. The effects on total cardiac pump work were similar for PS and AS. As expected, PS resulted in a drastic decrease of lower body oxygen saturation, whereas in AS both the upper and lower body oxygen saturation decreased, though not as drastically as in PS. Conclusion: Our simulations support the opinion that a PS can transfer suprasystemic PAH to an Eisenmenger physiology associated with a right-to-left shunt at the arterial level. Contrary to the current opinion that PS in PAH will decompress and unload the right ventricle, we show that while a PS does lead to a decrease in mPAP toward mean systemic arterial pressure, it does not unload the right ventricle because it mainly diverts flow from the pulmonary arterial system toward the lower body systemic arteries.
Keywords: Potts shunt; atrial septostomy; computer modeling; exercise; oxygen saturation; pulmonary arterial hypertension; pump work; shunt flow.