The Fontan operation is the last stage of a series of operations to create a pathway for poor-oxygen blood to bypass one of the ventricles and drain directly into the lungs. This procedure is usually performed on patients who only have one effective ventricle to pump blood to both the body and lungs.
In a healthy heart, the left side of the heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body while the right side pumps oxygen-poor blood to the lungs.
Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm) may develop and are more likely in those patients operated at a later age. Some types of Fontan operations also carry a higher risk of arrhythmias due to enlargement and scarring of the atrium, causing problem with the heart’s electrical conduction. Treatment options may include medication, insertion of pacemaker and radiofrequency ablation procedure.
Some Fontan patients may develop a condition called Protein-Losing Enteropathy (PLE) where protein is lost through the gut. This is a very serious condition and the exact cause is unknown. Generally, the treatment involves taking medication and for severe cases, a transplant may be necessary.
Some patients might have problems with fluid retention in the abdomen or lower part of the legs.