Extra-cardiac and complex Fontan baffle fenestration using radio frequency current via surgical electrocautery

Cardiol Young. 2023 Dec;33(12):2621-2627. doi: 10.1017/S1047951123000380. Epub 2023 Apr 24.


Background: Fontan baffle punctures and creation of Fontan fenestration for cardiac catheterisation procedures remain challenging especially due to the heavy calcification of prosthetic material and complex anatomy.

Objectives: We sought to evaluate our experience using radiofrequency current via surgical electrocautery needle for Fontan baffle puncture to facilitate diagnostic, electrophysiology, and interventional procedures.

Methods: A retrospective chart review of all Fontan patients (pts) who underwent Fontan baffle puncture using radiofrequency energy via surgical electrocautery from three centres were performed from January 2011 to July 2021.

Results: A total of 19 pts underwent 22 successful Fontan baffle puncture. The median age and weight were 17 (3-36 years) and 55 (14-88) kg, respectively. The procedural indications for Fontan fenestration creation included: diagnostic study (n = 1), atrial septostomy and stenting (n = 1), electrophysiology study and ablation procedures (n = 8), Fontan baffle stenting for Fontan failure including protein-losing enteropathy (n = 7), and occlusion of veno-venous collaterals (n = 2) for cyanosis. The type of Fontan baffles included: extra-cardiac conduits (n = 12), lateral tunnel (n = 5), classic atrio-pulmonary connection (n = 1), and intra-cardiac baffle (n = 1). A Fontan baffle puncture was initially attempted using traditional method in 6 pts and Baylis radiofrequency trans-septal system in 2 pts unsuccessfully. In all pts, Fontan baffle puncture using radiofrequency energy via electrocautery needle was successful. The radiofrequency energy utilised was (10-50 W) and required 1-5 attempts for 2-5 seconds. There were no vascular or neurological complications.

Conclusions: Radiofrequency current delivery using surgical electrocautery facilitates Fontan baffle puncture in patients with complex and calcified Fontan baffles for diagnostic, interventional, and electrophysiology procedures.

Keywords: Fontan baffle puncture; Fontan fenestration; radiofrequency; surgical electrocautery tip.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Catheterization
  • Electrocoagulation
  • Fontan Procedure*
  • Heart
  • Heart Defects, Congenital* / complications
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome