Mayo Clinic’s Fontan procedure study shows improvement in survival rates

May 5, 2017 | Suzanne Ferguson | @suzannerferguson


Mayo Clinic recently published the largest single center study on the outcomes of the Fontan procedure. The goal of the study was to determine how well patients were doing 10, 20 and 30 years after a Fontan procedure at Mayo Clinic. The most promising result from the study shows that due to the surgical advancements of the Fontan procedure, survival rates have continued to improve over the last 40 years.

In 1971, two surgeons, Dr. Francois Fontan and Dr. Guillermo Kreutzer, separately pioneered the Fontan procedure to treat a heart defect called tricuspid atresia. During the Fontan procedure, the surgeon creates a path for the oxygen-poor blood to flow directly into the pulmonary arteries. The pulmonary arteries then carry the blood into the lungs. The Fontan procedure treats most forms of single ventricle defects, including hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS).

The study examined the records of 1,052 who had a Fontan procedure between October 1973 and June 2012 at Mayo Clinic. It showed the 30-year survival for these patients was only 43% but survival since 2001 has improved to 95%.  The study demonstrated that survival rates have continued to improve over the years due to improved surgical techniques.  Also important to note, 85% of all patients felt that their clinical status had improved after their Fontan procedure and 82% rated their current health status as “excellent” or “good”.

While the study showed that the Fontan procedure is a life-saving surgery, study participants exhibited the negative consequences associated with Fontan surgery including heart failure, arrhythmia, liver disease and protein-losing enteropathy (PLE).

Read the whole study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.  J Am Cardiol Cardiol 2015; 66: 1700-10

The Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) is a collaborative network of specialists bonded by the vision of delaying or preventing heart failure for individuals affected by congenital heart defects including HLHS. The specialized team is addressing the various aspects of these defects by using research and clinical strategies ranging from basic science to diagnostic imaging to regenerative therapies.


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