Objectives: This study sought to evaluate changes in early morbidity and mortality as well as predictors of outcome in our most recent 339 patients undergoing modified Fontan operations.
Background: The Fontan operation is the preferred definitive palliation for patients with functional single ventricles. Previously reported early mortality rates after Fontan operation have been substantial.
Methods: Records of 339 consecutive patients who had a Fontan operation at the Mayo Clinic between 1987 and 1992 (recent cohort) were reviewed. This cohort was compared with the previous 500 patients who had Fontan operations performed between 1973 and 1986 (early cohort).
Results: Recently, overall early mortality after Fontan has decreased significantly compared with that for the early cohort (from 16% to 9%, p = 0.002). This decline occurred despite increased anatomic complexity of patients. Short-term posthospital survival has also improved significantly in recent patients. One-year survival improved to 88% from 79%, and 5-year survival to 81% from 73% (p = 0.006). Patients with common atrioventricular valves and those who took daily preoperative diuretic medication or had either postoperative renal failure or elevated postbypass right atrial pressure were at increased risk for early mortality. Young age was not found to be a risk factor for early mortality. Early mortality for patients with heterotaxia decreased dramatically: recent 30-day mortality was 15% compared with 41% in the early heterotaxy cohort.
Conclusions: Many factors may have contributed to decreased early mortality after Fontan. Improved patient selection, younger age at time of operation, refinements in surgical techniques and postoperative management may all have had important roles. Proposed technical modifications of the Fontan operation must be evaluated in light of these improved results.