After the Fontan, systemic venous hypertension induces pathophysiologic changes in the lymphatic system that can result in complications of pleural effusion, ascites, plastic bronchitis, and protein losing enteropathy. Advances in medical therapy and novel interventional approaches have not substantially improved the poor prognosis of these complications. A more physiological approach has been developed by decompression of the thoracic duct to the lower pressure common atrium with a concomitant increase of preload. Diverting the innominate vein to the common atrium increases the transport capacity of the thoracic duct, which in most patients enters the circulation at the left subclavian-jugular vein junction. Contrary to the fenestrated Fontan circulation, in which the thoracic duct is drained into the high pressure Fontan circulation, turn down of the innominate vein to the common atrium effectively decompresses the thoracic duct to the lower pressure system with "diastolic suctioning" of lymph. Innominate vein turn-down may be considered for medical-refractory post-Fontan lymphatic complications of persistent chylothorax, plastic bronchitis, and protein losing enteropathy. Prophylactic innominate vein turn-down may also be considered at time of the Fontan operation for patients that are higher risk for lymphatic complications.
Keywords: Chylothorax; Failing Fontan; Lymphatic circulation; Plastic bronchitis; Protein-loosing enterophaty; Thoracic duct.
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