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Bone Joint J. 2014 Jan;96-B(1):94-9. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.96B1.32581.

The surgical management of spinal deformity in children with a Fontan circulation: The development of an algorithm for treatment.

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Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Spinal Unit, Bristol Road, Birmingham B31 2AP, UK.


The management of spinal deformity in children with univentricular cardiac pathology poses significant challenges to the surgical and anaesthetic teams. To date, only posterior instrumented fusion techniques have been used in these children and these are associated with a high rate of complications. We reviewed our experience of both growing rod instrumentation and posterior instrumented fusion in children with a univentricular circulation. Six children underwent spinal corrective surgery, two with cavopulmonary shunts and four following completion of a Fontan procedure. Three underwent growing rod instrumentation, two had a posterior fusion and one had spinal growth arrest. There were no complications following surgery, and the children undergoing growing rod instrumentation were successfully lengthened. We noted a trend for greater blood loss and haemodynamic instability in those whose surgery was undertaken following completion of a Fontan procedure. At a median follow-up of 87.6 months (interquartile range (IQR) 62.9 to 96.5) the median correction of deformity was 24.2% (64.5° (IQR 46° to 80°) vs 50.5° (IQR 36° to 63°)). We believe that early surgical intervention with growing rod instrumentation systems allows staged correction of the spinal deformity and reduces the haemodynamic insult to these physiologically compromised children. Due to the haemodynamic changes that occur with the completed Fontan circulation, the initial scoliosis surgery should ideally be undertaken when in the cavopulmonary shunt stage.


Congenital heart disease; Fontan circulation; Growing rod instrumentation; Posterior spinal fusion; Scoliosis surgery; Spinal deformity

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