Orthotopic heart transplantation in patients with univentricular physiology

Guido Michielon, Adriano Carotti, Giacomo Pongiglione, Paola Cogo, Francesco Parisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Parallel advancements in surgical technique, preoperative and postoperative care, as well as a better understanding of physiology in patients with duct-dependent pulmonary or systemic circulation and a functional single ventricle, have led to superb results in staged palliation of most complex congenital heart disease (CHD) [1]. The Fontan procedure and its technical modifications have resulted in markedly improved outcomes of patients with single ventricle anatomy [2,3,4]. The improved early survival has led to an exponential increase of the proportion of Fontan patients surviving long into adolescence and young adulthood [5]. Improved early and late survival has not yet abolished late mortality secondary to myocardial failure, therefore increasing the referrals for cardiac transplantation [6]. Interstage attrition [7] is moreover expected in staged palliation towards completion of a Fontan-type circulation, while Fontan failure represents a growing indication for heart transplantation [8]. Heart transplantation has therefore become the potential "fourth stage" [9] or a possible alternative to a high-risk Fontan operation [10] in a strategy of staged palliation for single ventricle physiology. Heart transplant barely accounts for 16% of pediatric solid organ transplants [11]. The thirteenth official pediatric heart transplantation report- 2010 [11] indicates that pediatric recipients received only 12.5% of the total reported heart transplants worldwide. Congenital heart disease is not only the most common recipient diagnosis, but also the most powerful predictor of 1-year mortality after OHT. Results of orthotopic heart transplantations (OHT) for failing single ventricle physiology are mixed. Some authors advocate excellent early and mid-term survival after OHT for failing Fontan [9], while others suggest that rescue-OHT after failing Fontan seems unwarranted [10]. Moreover, OHT outcome appears to be different according to the surgical staging towards the Fontan operation and surgical technique of Fontan completion [12]. The focus of this report is a complete review of the recent literature on OHT for failing single ventricles, outlining the clinical issues affecting Fontan failure, OHT listing and OHT outcome. These data are endorsed reporting our experience with OHT for failing single ventricle physiology in recent years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-91
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Cardiology Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • Fontan failure
  • Pediatric heart transplantation
  • Univertricular physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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