Device management of arrhythmias after Fontan conversion

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We assessed our pacemaker strategy, use of antitachycardia therapies, generator longevity, and need for programming changes in patients having Fontan conversion with arrhythmia surgery.


Between 1994 and 2008, of 121 consecutive patients having Fontan conversion and arrhythmia surgeries, 120 patients underwent pacemaker implantation at the time of Fontan conversion (mean age 22.9 ± 8.1 years). Prior pacemakers were in place in 32/120 (26.7%) patients. Between 1994 and 1998, single-chamber atrial antitachycardia pacemakers were implanted (n = 12); atrial rate-responsive pacemakers (n = 31) were implanted between 1998 and 2002. Dual-chamber rate-responsive pacemakers (n = 16) were used between 2002 and 2003, and subsequently dual-chamber antitachycardia pacemakers (n = 61) have become the pacemaker of choice. Leads have evolved from transatrial endocardial leads to epicardial unipolar and subsequently bipolar leads.


Among 87 patients with adequate follow-up, all are currently atrially paced at a minimum lower rate ≥70 beats per minute. Single-chamber atrial pacemakers were implanted in 43 (antitachycardia in 12), and dual-chamber pacemakers in 77 (antitachycardia in 61); multisite ventricular leads were placed in 7 patients. Far-field R-wave sensing in 78.6% of unipolar atrial leads led to use of epicardial bipolar leads. Late atrioventricular block (24%) led to routine implantation of dual-chamber pacemakers. Antitachycardia pacing was utilized in 7%. One patient required acute lead revision and 4 required late upgrade to dual-chamber pacemakers. There was no pacemaker-related infection. Twenty patients required generator change, and the mean device longevity was 7.53 years.


Customized pacemaker therapy can optimize management of patients following Fontan conversion. Device longevity is excellent. Based on our experience with 120 Fontan conversions, we recommend placement of a dual-chamber antitachycardia pacemaker with bipolar steroid-eluting epicardial leads in all patients at the time of the conversion.

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