The Fontan procedure is indicated as final-stage treatment for pediatric cardiac patients with single ventricle physiology. This procedure, whose aim is to provide for total cavopulmonary disconnect and perfusion of the pulmonary arteries via systemic veins, is performed via two differing techniques: intra-atrial, so-called lateral tunnel technique, employing PTFE graft material and internal atrial baffle, versus the extracardiac technique, using larger PTFE tubing and externally constructed baffle.
There is persistent debate regarding the optimal technique to use, centered around the following main issues: 1) need for use of cardiopulmonary bypass and attendant consequences, 2) rates of thrombosis and embolism, 3) incidence of postoperative protein-losing enteropathy (PLE), 4) incidence of arrhythmias, and 5) baffle patency rates. A handful of small- to medium-sized studies has addressed the above issues, but, importantly, has not used patient data from the same institution. Here at CHOA, there are an estimated 200+ lateral tunnel, and have been up to 125 to 150 extracardiac Fontan procedures, performed in the last 15 years (1.1.1980-3.31.2005). Data from these cases would be potentially very helpful in answering all of these questions.