The Norwood operation and subsequent Fontan operation in infants with complex congenital heart disease

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1995 Apr;109(4):654-62. doi: 10.1016/S0022-5223(95)70346-2.


From April 1987 to September 1993, 60 infants underwent a Norwood operation for complex congenital heart disease including hypoplastic left heart syndrome (n = 41), ventricular septal defect and subaortic stenosis with aortic arch interruption/severe coarctation (n = 7), complex single right ventricle with subaortic stenosis (n = 8), critical aortic stenosis with endocardial fibroelastosis (n = 2), and malaligned primum atrial septal defect with coarctation (n = 2). Age at operation ranged from 1 day to 3.9 months (mean 9 days, median 3.5 days). The operative mortality (< 30 days) was 33% (20 patients). Late mortality was 17% (10 patients). Nine of the 20 (45%) operative deaths occurred during the first 2 days after the operation as a result of sudden hemodynamic instability. All four infants with premature closure of the foramen ovale had pulmonary lymphangiectasia and died of pulmonary failure. Seven operative deaths have occurred in 36 patients since 1990 (19%); in the past 2 years, no operative deaths have occurred in 22 patients. Overall, there are 30 long-term survivors (50%). Twenty-one of these 30 infants have undergone a two-stage repair with a modified Fontan operation at 7.3 to 27.6 months of age (mean 18.1 months) with no mortality. Six patients have entered a three-stage repair strategy by undergoing a hemi-Fontan procedure at 6.8 to 23.0 months (mean 8.8 months) with no mortality, and two of these patients have now had their modified Fontan operation at 23.0 to 46.7 months of age with no mortality (four are still awaiting surgery). Two patients have undergone a two-ventricle repair with a Rastelli procedure, with no mortality at 7.4 and 14.1 months of age. Early in our experience, infants undergoing the Norwood operation had a high early mortality most often related to sudden hemodynamic instability. After we instituted a protocol that adds carbon dioxide to the inspired gas during postoperative mechanical ventilation, the postoperative course became more stable and there have been no operative deaths. In summary, the operative mortality for the Norwood operation continues to improve. A subsequent Fontan operation can be performed with excellent clinical results.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / mortality
  • Female
  • Fontan Procedure*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / mortality
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / physiopathology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery*
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Survival Rate