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Am J Cardiol. 2013 Dec 15;112(12):1943-7. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2013.08.023. Epub 2013 Sep 25.

Hemodynamic phenotype of the failing Fontan in an adult population.

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Sibley Heart Center Cardiology, Emory University, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia. Electronic address:


Fontan failure can occur even with normal systolic ventricular function and often in the context of significant liver disease. We hypothesized that Fontan failure is hemodynamically distinct from traditional heart failure and characterized by low systemic vascular resistance (SVR) index and preserved cardiac index. Twenty-seven symptomatic adult Fontan (SAF) patients who underwent catheterization from 2001 to 2011 constituted our study group. Fifty-four predominantly asymptomatic pediatric Fontan (PF) patients who underwent catheterization during the same period were randomly selected to perform a control:case cohort analysis. Clinical comparisons were made between the 2 groups. The adults were more symptomatic than the PF cohort (New York Heart Association classes I and II or III and IV: 48% or 52% [SAF] vs 94% or 6% [PF], respectively, p <0.01). SAF versus PF mean catheterization findings were central venous pressure 18 ± 6 versus 14 ± 3 mm Hg (p <0.01), SVR index 1,680 ± 368 versus 1,960 ± 550 dyn s/cm(5)/m(2) (p = 0.02), and cardiac index 2.7 ± 0.8 versus 2.8 ± 0.7 L/min/m(2) (p = 0.25). By imaging, the SAF cohort demonstrated a greater incidence of abnormal liver texture changes (96% vs 75%, p = 0.04) and nodularity (77% vs 42%, p = 0.02). In conclusion, adult patients with failing Fontan circulation had a lower SVR index and similar cardiac index compared with the pediatric cohort. Liver disease in the adults was more advanced. Our data suggest that Fontan failure is a distinct circulatory derangement with hemodynamic features similar to portal hypertension, albeit with limited ability to augment cardiac output.

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