Prevalence and Cause of Early Fontan Complications: Does the Lymphatic Circulation Play a Role?
Year of Publication
Number of Pages
2020 Apr 07
<p><strong>Background</strong> Recent studies suggest that lymphatic congestion plays a role in development of late Fontan complications, such as protein-losing enteropathy. However, the role of the lymphatic circulation in early post-Fontan outcomes is not well defined.</p>
<p><strong>Methods and Results</strong> This was a retrospective, single-center study of patients undergoing first-time Fontan completion from 2012 to 2017. The primary outcome was ≤6 months after surgery, a composite of death, Fontan takedown, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, chest tube drainage >14 days, cardiac catheterization, readmission, or transplant. Complication causes were assigned to 1 of 4 groups: (1) Fontan circuit obstruction, (2) ventricular dysfunction or atrioventricular valve regurgitation, (3) persistent pleural effusions Fontan obstruction or ventricular dysfunction, and (4) chylothorax or plastic bronchitis. T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging sequences were used to assess for lymphatic perfusion abnormality. The cohort consisted of 238 patients. Fifty-eight (24%) developed early complications: 20 of 58 (34.5%) in group 1, 8 of 58 (14%) in group 2, 18 of 58 (31%) in group 3, and 12 of 58 (20%) in group 4. Preoperative T2 imaging was available for 126 (53%) patients. Patients with high-grade lymphatic abnormalities had 6 times greater odds of developing early complications (=0.001).</p>
<p><strong>Conclusions </strong>There is substantial morbidity in the early post-Fontan period. Half of those who developed early complications had lymphatic failure or persistent effusions unrelated to structural or functional abnormalities. Preoperative T2 imaging demonstrated that patients with higher-grade lymphatic perfusion abnormalities were significantly more likely to develop early complications. This has implications for risk stratification and optimization of patients before Fontan palliation.</p>
J Am Heart Assoc