Risk Factors for Longer Hospital Stay Following the Fontan Operation

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Children with functional single ventricle undergoing the Fontan operation consume considerable resources. The purpose of this study is to evaluate pre- and intraoperative risk factors for longer hospital stay and to describe the perioperative course at a single institution over a 15-year period.


Retrospective cohort study.


A single pediatric cardiac ICU.


All consecutive patients undergoing a first-time Fontan operation from 2000 to 2014.



Measurements and Main Results:

Prolonged length of stay was defined as hospital stay greater than 75 percentile at our institution after surgery. Of 218 patients who met inclusion criteria, median length of stay was 10 days (interquartile range, 8–14 d); prolonged length of stay was defined greater than or equal to 15 days. Independent pre- and intraoperative risk factors for prolonged length of stay included higher hemoglobin (odds ratio, 1.29; p = 0.003), higher mean pulmonary artery pressure (odds ratio, 1.14; p = 0.037), and lower aortic saturation (odds ratio, 0.92; p = 0.008) in the entire group. When patients with hepatic vein inclusion (following previous Kawashima) were excluded, higher hemoglobin (odds ratio, 1.24; p = 0.027), lower aortic saturation (odds ratio, 0.92; p = 0.017), and placement of a fenestration (odds ratio, 2.438; p = 0.021) were associated with prolonged length of stay. Fifty-eight patients (26.6%) had major complications defined by Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Consortium. Placement of a fenestration (odds ratio, 2.297; p = 0.014) and longer aortic cross-clamp time (odds ratio, 1.015; p = 0.003) were independently associated with Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Consortium major complications.


In this series, 75% of patients had a postoperative length of stay less than or equal to 2 weeks. Preoperative factors suggesting worse hypoxemia/decreased pulmonary blood flow (higher hemoglobin and lower oxygen saturation) and increased pulmonary artery pressure were associated with prolonged length of stay. These findings may help risk stratify this complex patient population, provide more accurate family counseling, and provide preliminary data for changes in preoperative timing of the Fontan and/or changes to postoperative management strategies for those at high risk for increased ICU morbidity.

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