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The Fontan Outcomes Network was created to improve outcomes for children and adults with single ventricle CHD living with Fontan circulation. The network mission is to optimise longevity and quality of life by improving physical health, neurodevelopmental outcomes, resilience, and emotional health for these individuals and their families. This manuscript describes the systematic design of this new learning health network, including the initial steps in development of a national, lifespan registry, and pilot testing of data collection forms at 10 congenital heart centres.
Pulmonary lymphangiectasia associated with hypoplastic left heart syndrome with an intact or restrictive atrial septum may result from increased left atrial pressure, and is associated with worse outcomes following staged reconstruction due to lung dysfunction and significant hypoxaemia. Our objective was to characterise the incidence of pulmonary lymphangiectasia in cases of early mortality following stage 1 reconstructions.
An institutional cardiac surgical database was retrospectively searched for patients who died within 30 days following a stage 1 reconstruction between 1 January, 1984 and 31 December, 2013. During that period, 1669 stage 1 procedures were performed. Autopsy lung specimens were reviewed by a paediatric pathologist. Patients who died of suspected technical issues were excluded.
A total of 54 patients were included, and of these seven cases (8.5%) of pulmonary lymphangiectasia were identified. The mean estimated gestational age was 38.2±2.4 weeks, and the mean birth weight was 3.0±0.6 kg. The median interval between surgery and death was 1 day (with a range from 0 to 18 days). The atrial septum was intact in one patient (14.3%), restrictive in three patients (42.9%), and unrestrictive in three patients (42.9%).
Pulmonary lymphangiectasia may develop in hypoplastic left heart syndrome with or without a restrictive atrial septum. As standard prenatal diagnostic evaluations and treatment methods for pulmonary lymphangiectasia are limited, this may be an important contributor to early and late mortality following stage 1 reconstruction for hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
The Fontan operation is the final step of palliation for patients with a functionally single ventricle. Since its introduction in the 1970s, the Fontan surgery has become part of a successful surgical strategy that has improved single ventricle mortality. In recent years, we have become more aware of the limitations and long-term consequences of the Fontan physiology. Pulmonary vascular resistance plays an important role in total cavopulmonary circulation, and has been identified as a potential therapeutic target to mitigate Fontan sequelae. In this review, we will discuss the results of different pulmonary vasodilator trials and the use of pulmonary vasodilators as a treatment strategy for Fontan patients.
The Fontan operation, although part of a life-saving surgical strategy, manifests a variety of end-organ complications and unique morbidities that are being recognised with increasing frequency as patients survive into their second and third decades of life and beyond. Liver fibrosis, protein-losing enteropathy and plastic bronchitis are consequences of a complex physiology involving circulatory insufficiency, inflammation and lymphatic derangement. These conditions are manifest in a chronic, indolent state. Management strategies are emerging, which shed some light on the origins of these complications. A better characterisation of the end-organ consequences of the Fontan circulation is necessary, which can then allow for development of specific methods for treatment. Ideally, the goal is to establish systematic strategies that might reduce or eliminate the development of these potentially life-threatening challenges.
Background: Aortic root dilation has been observed in some patients with tetralogy of Fallot. This study examines whether 22q11.2 deletion is a risk factor for aortic root dilation in tetralogy of Fallot. Methods: Patients with tetralogy of Fallot, in the age group of 6–18 years, with defined deletion status and echocardiograms (2003–2009) were identified from research databases. The diameter at the aortic annulus, sinus, and sinotubular junction was measured and analysed as Z-scores. Variables were examined in univariate and multivariate regression analysis. Results: Of 171 patients, 66% were male, 16% had 22q11.2 deletion, 40% had an aortic arch anomaly, and 11% had both a 22q11.2 deletion and aortic arch anomaly. Echocardiograms were performed at a mean age of 12 + 3 years. More patients with 22q11.2 deletion had Z-scores >3 at the sinus diameter (45% versus 35%, p = 0.02). In the multivariate analysis, the combination of 22q11.2 deletion and aortic arch anomalies was associated with both aortic annular dilation (p = 0.006) and aortic sinus dilation (p = 0.05). In the subset with pulmonary valve atresia, similar findings were observed at the aortic annulus (Z-score of 4.6 versus 2.2, p = 0.05) and the sinuses (Z-score of 4.4 versus 2.7, p = 0.06). Male sex (p < 0.03) and pulmonary atresia (p < 0.006) were additional risk factors for dilation at the annulus and sinuses. Conclusions: Children with tetralogy of Fallot with 22q11.2 deletion and aortic arch anomalies have increased aortic annular and aortic sinus dilation. Further longitudinal study is needed to assess whether both features are associated with progressive aortic root dilation.
This chapter demonstrates the role of the cardiovascular system as a contributor to the mechanisms of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) and the essential role that cardiovascular characterization plays in diagnosing and monitoring the condition. It reviews the pathophysiology of TTTS and its impact on the cardiovascular system. The chapter discusses current methods for cardiovascular assessment, treatment strategies and the impact these have on the progression of cardiovascular disease and long-term implications. The longitudinal assessment of TTTS demonstrated that the circulatory derangement results in cardiac deterioration in a subset of patients. TTTS is believed to result from unidirectional flow across arteriovenous anastomoses within the shared placental mass with a paucity of bidirectional venovenous and arterioarterial anastomoses. The scoring system incorporates features unique to TTTS that quantify the cardiovascular burden of the disease. In TTTS, the twin pair is composed of the same genetic make-up suggesting that additional prenatal factors are involved.
Children with functionally univentricular hearts are now surviving into their third and fourth decades of life. Although survival alone is a remarkable achievement, a lot must still be done to improve the quality and duration of life after the Fontan operation. Challenges that may be faced by these patients include the impact of the Fontan operation on the liver and the density of bone, protein-losing enteropathy, and plastic bronchitis. Paediatric cardiologists are familiar with the haemodynamic issues inherent in Fontan physiology; however, training in cardiology is often not sufficient to give us a complete understanding of the pathophysiology of the complications or of the options for treatment. Collaboration with other subspecialists including gastroenterologists, endocrinologists, and pulmonologists is essential in order to provide the rigorous and nuanced care that our patients need and deserve. A clinic in which a patient can see multiple subspecialists, and in which the subspecialists, as a group, can discuss each patient, can provide a unique and valuable service for patients with a functionally univentricular heart.
The Fontan operation, originally described for the surgical management of tricuspid atresia, is now the final surgery in the strategy of staged palliation for a number of different forms of congenital cardiac disease with a functionally univentricular heart. Despite the improved technical outcomes of the Fontan operation, staged palliation does not recreate a normal physiology. Without a pumping chamber delivering blood to the lungs, the cardiovascular system is less efficient; cardiac output is generally diminished, and the systemic venous pressure is increased. As a result, patients with “Fontan physiology” may face a number of rare but potentially life-threatening complications including hepatic dysfunction, abnormalities of coagulation, protein-losing enteropathy, and plastic bronchitis. Despite the staged palliation resulting in remarkable survival, the possible complications for this group of patients are complex, involve multiple organ systems, and can be life threatening. Identifying the mechanisms associated with each of the rare complications, and developing strategies to treat them, requires the work of many people at many institutions. Continued collaboration between sub-specialists and between institutions will be required to optimise the care for this group of survivors with functionally univentricular hearts.
Microcephaly is a marker of abnormal fetal cerebral development, and a known risk factor for cognitive dysfunction. Patients with hypoplastic left heart syndrome have been found to have an increased incidence of abnormal neurodevelopmental outcomes. We hypothesized that reduced cerebral blood flow from the diminutive ascending aorta and transverse aortic arch in the setting of hypoplastic left heart syndrome may influence fetal growth of the brain. The purpose of our study, therefore, was to define the prevalence of microcephaly in full-term infants with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and to investigate potential cardiac risk factors for microcephaly. We carried out a retrospective review of full-term neonates with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Eligible patients had documented indexes of birth weight, and measurements of length, and head circumference, as well as adequate echocardiographic images for measurement of the diameters of the ascending aorta and transverse aortic arch. We used logistic regression for analysis of the data. A total of 129 neonates met the criterions for inclusion, with 15 (12%) proving to have microcephaly. The sizes of their heads were disproportionately smaller than their weights (p less than 0.001) and lengths (p less than 0.001) at birth. Microcephaly was associated with lower birth weight (p less than 0.001), lower birth length (p equal to 0.007), and a smaller diameter of the ascending aorta (p equal to 0.034), but not a smaller transverse aortic arch (p equal to 0.619), or aortic atresia (p equal to 0.969). We conclude that microcephaly was common in this cohort of neonates with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, with the size of the head being disproportionately smaller than weight and length at birth. Microcephaly was associated with a small ascending aorta, but not a small transverse aortic arch. Impairment of somatic growth may be an additional factor in the development of microcephaly in these neonates.
Background: Performance of the functionally single right ventricle may deteriorate over time. Quantitative assessment of this chamber, however, is complicated by its asymmetric geometry. Automatic detection of borders, and the Doppler-derived index of myocardial performance, are echocardiographic techniques that allow for quantitative assessment regardless of ventricular shape. We sought to evaluate the mechanics of contraction and relaxation in the functionally single right ventricle using these parameters. Methods: We evaluated systemic ventricular function in 35 asymptomatic patients with functionally single right ventricle, having a mean age of 7.8 ± 3.1 years, who had undergone the Fontan procedure. We compared them with 32 age-matched normal controls using both automatic detection of borders and Doppler indexes. Results: When compared with the controls, the group with a functionally single right ventricle demonstrated diminished systolic function as evidenced by a lower fractional change in area (42.7 ± 10.1% vs. 54.6 ± 10.5%, p = 0.001), and diminished diastolic function, as demonstrated by a greater reliance on atrial contraction to achieve ventricular filling (32.0 ± 4.4% vs. 22.2 ± 4.1%, p = 0.001). The mean index of myocardial performance in those with functionally single right ventricles was also greater than in controls (0.41 ± 0.12 vs. 0.30 ± 0.05, p = 0.001), and the indexed ejection time was shorter (0.35 ± 0.05 vs. 0.39 ± 0.05, p = 0.01), suggesting less efficient ventricular mechanics. Conclusions: These data demonstrate that the systolic and diastolic properties of the functionally single right ventricle differ significantly from those of the normal systemic left ventricle. Use of the echocardiographic techniques provide insight into ventricular mechanics in patients with functionally single ventricles, and may be valuable tools for serial quantitative follow-up.
Objective: To explore whether prenatal diagnosis of congenital heart disease is associated with lower levels of parental distress and greater satisfaction with decisions about cardiothoracic surgery when compared to postnatal diagnosis. Methodology: A combined quantitative–qualitative design was used. Participants included the parents of 31 neonates (30 mothers and 22 fathers) admitted to the cardiac intensive care unit between 1 November 2001 and 1 May 2002 for repair of congenital cardiac malformations. Participants completed self-report measures of anxiety, optimism, and life events pre-operatively, and semi-structured qualitative interviews assessing satisfaction with decision-making within 1 week of the operation. Results: At the time of surgery, mothers of neonates receiving the diagnosis prenatally did not differ from mothers of neonates receiving the diagnosis postnatally on measures of anxiety, optimism, and life events. Fathers of neonates receiving the diagnosis prenatally, however, reported more optimism, lower state and trait anxiety, and fewer negative life events than fathers of neonates receiving the diagnosis postnatally. When we analyzed the interviews, we found that, regardless of the timing of the diagnosis, parents felt as though they made a genuine choice for their baby to have surgery. Conclusions: In this pilot study, fathers who learned prenatally that their child had a congenital cardiac malformation were less distressed than those who discovered this fact only postnatally. From the parental perspective, nonetheless, distress and urgency do not impair their ability to make decisions about neonatal cardiac surgery.
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