What is a Fontan Procedure?
The Fontan procedure is the third of three surgeries (following the Norwood procedure and Glenn shunt) used to treat a severe form of congenital heart disease called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, in which babies are born with a functioning right ventricle and a small, underdeveloped, nonfunctioning left ventricle.
What Happens During a Fontan Procedure?
During this procedure, usually performed about 18 to 36 months after the Glenn shunt, the inferior vena cava (the blood vessel that drains deoxygenated blood from the lower part of the body into the heart) is connected to the pulmonary artery. The connection is formed by creating a channel through or just outside the heart to direct blood to the pulmonary artery. This operation allows all the oxygen-poor (blue) blood returning to the heart to flow into the pulmonary artery, greatly improving the blood’s oxygenation.