Assessing the borderline ventricle in a term infant: combining imaging and physiology to establish the right course

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Purpose of review

The purpose of this review is to describe the challenges associated with the diagnosis and treatment of children with borderline ventricles. A borderline ventricle is one in which there is concern that it will not be able to support its circulation. If a biventricular repair is attempted and fails, outcome is often poor. Thus, this early decision is important.

Recent findings

For the borderline right ventricle, options to add an additional source of pulmonary blood flow make the surgical strategy a bit more flexible than for patients with a borderline left ventricle. In general, outcome for a so-called one and one-half ventricle repair are generally good, though the long-term outcome and the effects of this physiology on lifelong exercise performance and quality of life remain to be seen. For the small left ventricle, often multiple surgeries are required to ‘force’ blood into the left ventricle and potentially help it grow. Though this strategy is successful in some, in others it results in significant residual cardiac issues including pulmonary hypertension.


Determining whether a patient will be better off in the long term with a marginal biventricular repair versus a Fontan circulation remains one of the most difficult problems in the field of pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery.

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