Fontan Procedure

Also known as: Fontan completion surgery.

What is fontan procedure?

Fontan procedure is a heart surgery used to correct single ventricle type heart defects in children. The defect it helps to correct is one where oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood mixes and does not circulate properly.  It is usually the third surgery for single ventricle palliation.

What happens during the procedure?

This surgery involves connecting a vein called the inferior vena cava to the pulmonary arteries. This is done with a tube that bypasses the heart and directs blood to the lungs for oxygenation. The procedure essentially separates the oxygen-rich blood from oxygen-poor blood.

Is any special preparation needed?

The Fontan procedure is a major medical procedure. Several tests will be conducted beforehand. It’s also important to avoid certain medications, foods or drinks before the procedure as instructed by your doctor.

What are the risk factors?

The surgery poses risks including bleeding, stroke, heart attack, infections, breathing problems, fluid build up in the lungs, drug reactions, arrhythmia, need for pacemaker, and possibly death.. However, the benefits of the procedure greatly outweigh the risks.

Fontan procedure at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital: Fontan procedures are performed by Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s team of top-notch pediatric heart surgeons using the newest techniques.


Reviewed by: Madalsa Dipak Patel, MD

This page was last updated on: 6/21/2019 1:27:34 AM


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The Heart Program at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital provides electrocardiogram (EKG) screenings to children and young adults in the community at no cost. The use of an EKG is critical to help diagnose asymptomatic heart defects that may not otherwise be detected in a routine physical exam. Learn more.