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Despite improvements in outcomes after completion of the Fontan circulation, long-term functional state varies. We sought to identify pre- and postoperative characteristics associated with overall function.
Methods and Results
We analyzed data from 476 survivors with the Fontan circulation enrolled in the Pediatric Heart Network Fontan Cross-sectional Study. Mean age at creation of the Fontan circulation was 3.4 plus or minus 2.1 years, with a range from 0.7 to 17.5 years, and time since completion was 8.7 plus or minus 3.4 years, the range being from 1.1 to 17.3 years. We calculated a functional score for the survivors by averaging the percentile ranks of ventricular ejection fraction, maximal consumption of oxygen, the physical summary score for the Child Health Questionnaire, and a function of brain natriuretic peptide. The mean calculated score was 49.5 plus or minus 17.3, with a range from 3 to 87. After adjustment for time since completion of the circulation, we found that a lower score, and hence worse functional state, was associated with: right ventricular morphology (p less than 0.001), higher ventricular end-diastolic pressure (p equals 0.003) and lower saturations of oxygen (p equals 0.047) prior to completion of the Fontan circulation, lower income for the caregiver (p equals 0.003), and, in subjects without a prior superior cavopulmonary anastomosis, arrhythmias after completion of the circulation (p equals 0.003). The model explained almost one-fifth (18%) of the variation in the calculated scores. The score was not associated with surgical centre, sex, age, weight, fenestration, or the period of stay in hospital after completion of the Fontan circuit. A validation model, using 71 subjects randomly excluded from initial analysis, weakly correlated (R equals 0.17, p equals 0.16) with the score calculated from the dataset.
Right ventricular morphology, higher ventricular end-diastolic pressure and lower saturations of oxygen prior to completion of the Fontan circuit, lower income for the provider of care, and arrhythmias after creation of the circuit, are all associated with a worse functional state. Unmeasured factors also influence outcomes.
Children born with heterotaxy syndromes have poorer outcomes compared with children born with comparable cardiac lesions requiring similar surgical palliation. Heterotaxy has been reported as a separate risk factor for mortality and increased morbidity in a series of Fontan operations reported from single centres. Little is known, however, about the functional state of surviving patients with heterotaxy following a Fontan operation.
In the multicentric cross-sectional study carried out by the Pediatric Heart Network of 546 survivors of the Fontan procedure, the patients, aged from 6 to 18 years, underwent evaluation by echocardiography, exercise testing, electrocardiography, magnetic resonance imaging, and functional health status questionnaires compiled by the patients and their parents. Heterotaxy was identified in 42 patients (8%). Medical and patient characteristics were compared between those with heterotaxy and the remaining 504 patients who did not have heterotaxy.
Patients with heterotaxy had their Fontan procedure performed at a later age, with a median of 3.9 years versus 2.8 years (p = 0.001) and had volume-unloading surgery performed later, at a median age of 1.4 versus 0.9 years (p = 0.008). These patients had significantly different ventricular and atrioventricular valvar morphology, as well as a higher incidence of systemic and pulmonary venous abnormalities. They had a higher incidence of prior surgery to the pulmonary veins, at 21 versus 0.4%. The type of Fontan procedure was different, but no difference was detected in length of stay in hospital, or the number of postoperative complications. Sinus rhythm was less common, at 44 versus 71%, (p = 0.002), and history of atrial arrhythmias more common, at 19 versus 8%, (p = 0.018) in those with heterotaxy. Echocardiography revealed a greater degree atrioventricular valvar regurgitation, lower indexed stroke volume, and greater Tei index. Exercise performance, levels of brain natriuretic peptide in the serum, and summary and domain scores from health status questionnaires, were not different from those not having heterotaxy.
The study illustrates a profile of characteristics, medical history, functional health state, and markers of ventricular performance in patients with heterotaxy after the Fontan procedure. Despite obvious anatomic differences, and some differences in echocardiography and heart rhythm, there were no important differences in exercise performance or functional health state between these patients and other survivors of the Fontan procedure.
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