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BACKGROUND: Lymphatic embolization therapy has proven effective for Fontan failure from plastic bronchitis or protein-losing enteropathy but not when multiple lymphatic compartments are involved; furthermore, embolization does not alter the underlying pathophysiology of lymphatic dysfunction. A technique for transcatheter thoracic duct decompression (TDD), rerouting the thoracic duct to the pulmonary venous atrium to treat multicompartment lymphatic failure is described and early outcomes presented.
METHODS: Initially covered stents were used to channel the innominate vein flow inside of the cavopulmonary pathway into the pulmonary venous atrium. A modified approach was developed where covered stents redirected innominate vein directly to the left atrium via an extravascular course. Baseline and follow-up data on all patients undergoing TDD were reviewed.
RESULTS: Twelve patients underwent TDD between March 2018 and February 2021 at a median age of 12 (range: 2-22) years. Lymphatic failure occurred in median of 3 compartments per patient (protein-losing enteropathy, ascites, pleural effusions, plastic bronchitis); 10 patients had lymphatic embolizations before TDD. TDD method was intra-Fontan tunnel in 4, direct approach in 7, and other in 1. There were no major procedural complications; 6 patients underwent subsequent procedures, most commonly to treat endoleaks. Lymphatic failure resolved in 6 patients, improved in 2, and was unchanged in 4 at 6 (range: 1-20) months follow-up. One patient died after TDD from Fontan failure.
CONCLUSIONS: TDD is a promising new treatment for the failing Fontan physiology from multicompartment lymphatic failure. Additional work is needed to refine the technique and define optimal candidates.