The Fontan Study looked at the health status, exercise capacity, laboratory results and heart performance in children after the Fontan Procedure.
Were included in the study
Scored in the normal range for physical functioning
Were in the normal range for mental functioning
The things we learned may not apply to every child. The findings reflect those for all 546 people who participated. Individual results varied quite a bit.
The PHN is grateful to all of the families who participated in this study. The results from this study will help us to design future studies to learn more about helping children who had Fontan surgery live healthier lives.
P. Anderson, J Am Coll Cardiol 2008; 52:85-98.
The Fontan study was designed to study children born with a single ventricle or heart pumping chamber who underwent a type of surgery called the Fontan procedure Data was collected from 546 children between 6 and 18 years of age about their heart structure and function after surgery, ability to exercise, heart rhythm and certain lab tests. Questions were asked to assess physical, mental, and emotional well being. The study showed that most Fontan survivors had a normal sense of well being. Most had normal ability for the heart to squeeze, but the majority had decreased relaxation of the heart muscle. Ability to exercise was also decreased in most. Children with a single right ventricle (pumping chamber) had decreased function of the heart and its valves compared with children with a single left ventricle. If the Fontan procedure was done at an older age, heart valves did not work as well and children were less likely to have a normal heart rhythm.
L. Sleeper, Am Heart J 2006; 152:427-433.
This article describes how the Fontan study was designed and implemented in the Pediatric Heart Network. The purpose of the study was to determine whether clinical measures of how well the heart is working (such as lab tests, exercise testing, and echocardiogram) compare with health status (quality of life) in patients who have had a Fontan procedure for congenital heart disease. The data will help researchers design future clinical trial.
A. Ostrow, Ann Thorac Surg 2006; 82:695-700.
K. Sundareswaran, Ann Thorac Surg 2006; 82(4):1267-75; discussion 1275-77.
D. de Zélicourt, J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2006; 131:785-91.
B. McCrindle, Circulation 2006; 113:1123-1129.
Children with a single ventricle (heart pumping chamber) who have undergone the Fontan procedure are at risk of having poor health because of frequent hospitalizations and surgeries, decreased ability to exercise, and other medical problems. Parents of children in the Fontan study answered questions about their child’s physical activity, behavior, emotions and self-esteem. The results showed that as a group, children who have had the Fontan procedure have more problems with vision, speech, hearing, attention, learning, behavior, anxiety and depression compared to children in the general population. The impact of these other problems was made worse by having a lower family income. Future research is needed to identify ways to diagnose, prevent and treat these problems and to recognize the impact they have on children who have had the Fontan procedure.
B. McCrindle, Arch Dis Child 2007; 92:509-514.
The Pediatric Heart Network studied 147 of the children in the Fontan study to see how physically active they were on a daily basis. The researchers found that these children participated in physical activity far less often than healthy children, even if their exercise tests showed that they are able to exercise. Children who spent less time being physically active believed they were less healthy overall, whereas children who were not able to exercise as well not only believed they were less healthy, but also had lower level of physical function and self-esteem.
A. Atz, Cardiol Young 2007; 17 Suppl 2:44-53.
Children with heterotaxy syndrome have been found to have poorer outcomes compared to children with other complex heart problems, even if those children undergo the same surgeries. Eight percent of children in the Fontan study were found to have heterotaxy syndrome. Those children with heterotaxy were compared to children in the Fontan study without heterotaxy, in regards to their medical and surgical history, heart structure and function, ability to exercise, and health status. The study showed that there were no real differences between the two groups in the children’s sense of physical and psychosocial well-being or ability to exercise.
C. Backer, J Am Coll Cardiol 2008; 52:114-116.
This article describes the results of the Fontan study and how those results may change the way we care for children who will need to have the Fontan procedure.
S. Paridon, J Am Coll Cardiol 2008; 52:99-107.
This study discusses the exercise performance of a large group of children in the Fontan study. Of the 546 children in the study, 411 had exercise testing performed, and most (60%) were not able to exercise to peak levels. Those who were able to reach peak exercise were more likely to be older. Many reported fatigue as a reason for not reaching peak exercise. The wide range of performance was found to be related to the whether the heart is able to increase the amount of blood squeezed out of the pumping chamber (stroke volume). The study also showed that as males go through puberty and gain more muscle, the heart after a Fontan procedure may not be able to keep up with increased demands, making exercise more difficult.
A. Blaufox, J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2008; 136:100-107.
Problems with heart rate and rhythm are common after the Fontan procedure. The purpose of this study was to see if daily health status in children enrolled in the Fontan study was affected by heart rate or rhythm disorders. Researchers found that a lower resting heart rate and a higher heart rate during exercise were only weakly associated with better physical health. Therefore, other factors may have more impact on how children function after then Fontan procedure.
I. Williams, Cardiol Young 2009; 15:1-11.
Despite improvements in outcomes after surgery, the functional state varies in children who have had the Fontan procedure. This study developed a scoring system for overall function, looking at how the pumping chamber squeezes, the ability to exercise, physical well-being, and certain lab tests. Lower overall function after surgery was found in children who have a right heart pumping chamber, heart pressures that are higher than normal, lower oxygen levels before surgery, abnormal heart rhythms after surgery, and lower income of their caregiver.
R. Margossian, Am J Cardiol 2009; 104:419-428.
The size and function of a single heart pumping chamber (ventricle) are key elements when managing patients after the Fontan procedure. Children in the Fontan study had echocardiograms and MRIs performed as part of the study. This article describes how closely the measurements compare between different doctors who read the studies.
L. Lambert, Pediatrics 2009; 124:e942-949.
Children ages 10-18 enrolled in the Fontan study and their parents completed forms to assess the child’s health status. Parents’ perceptions of the functional health status of their children after the Fontan procedure were worse than the children’s perceptions of their own well being in several areas.
K. K. Whitehead, J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2009 Jul; 138(1): 96–102.
B. McCrindle, Circulation 2010; 121:34-42.
This study looked at how the well being of children who were in the Fontan study related to the test results from echocardiography, MRI, blood and exercise tests. The results showed that the results of these tests were only weakly associated with health status. This suggests that these tests may not be good markers for functional health status.
M. Cohen, Am Heart J 2010; 160:1092-1098.e1.
P. Anderson, Pediatr Cardiol 2010; 31(8): 1219–1228.
A. Prakash, Am J Cardiol 2010; 106(11):1652-6.
E. Stephenson, J Am Coll Cardiol 2010; 56:890-6.
J. R. Darst, Cardiol Young. 2010 Dec; 20(6): 593–601.
J. Rhodes, J Am Soc Echocardiogr 2011; 24:1213-9.
P. Banka, Am Heart J 2011; 162:125-130.
A. Atz, J Am Coll Cardiol 2011; 57:2437-43.
A. Atz, Congenit Heart Dis 2011; 6:313-321.
R. Williams, Echocardiography 2013; 30:1098-1106.
A. Atz, Cardiol Young 2013; 23(3): 335–343.
R. Williams, Congenit Heart Dis 2013;8(1): 32–39.
P. Madan, Am Heart J. 2013 Aug;166(2):365-372.e1.
B. McCrindle, Cardiol Young 2014; 24(3): 469–477.
A. R. Opotowsky, Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2014 Jul 1;307(1):H110-7.
R. Margossian, J Am Soc Echocardiogr 2016 Nov;29(11):1066-1073.
J. Rhodes, Pediatrics 2005; 116(6):1339-1345.
Children with congenital heart disease (CHD) often can’t exercise as well as their peers. Part of this may be due to their heart defect and part may be that they may not be very physically active. A 12-week cardiac rehabilitation program was designed to see if children could improve their ability to exercise safely. Sixteen patients completed the program. Improvements were found in 15 of 16 patients and no patient had any heart problems from the exercise.
J. Rhodes, Pediatrics 2006; 118(3):e586-593.
Previous studies have shown immediate benefits when children with congenital heart disease are enrolled in a cardiac rehabilitation (exercise) program. This study aimed to see if the benefits lasted after the exercise program ended. The results showed, compared with children who did not undergo cardiac rehabilitation after the Fontan procedure, children who did participate had significant improvements in exercise function, behavior, self-esteem and emotional state 6 months after their program ended.