Alveolar Dead-Space Fraction and Arterial Saturation Predict Postoperative Course in Fontan Patients

Eran Shostak*, Ofer Schiller, Aviad Merzbach, Tzippy Shochat, Gabriel Amir, Georgy Frenkel, Ovadia Dagan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Fontan surgery, the final surgical stage in single ventricle palliation, redirects systemic venous blood into the pulmonary circulation for gas exchange. A decrease in pulmonary blood flow can lead to major complications and grave outcomes. Alveolar dead-space fraction represents the portion of inhaled air that does not participate in gas exchange and hence quantifies ventilation-perfusion abnormalities in the lung. Increased alveolar dead-space fraction has been associated with prolonged mechanical ventilation and worse outcome after congenital heart surgery. The association of alveolar dead-space fraction with clinical outcomes in patients undergoing Fontan operation has not been reported. Interventions: None. Design, Setting, and Patients: A retrospective charts review of all pediatric patients who underwent Fontan surgery during June 2010-November 2018 in a tertiary-care pediatric hospital. Associations between alveolar dead-space fraction and arterial oxyhemoglobin saturation to a composite outcome (surgical or catheter-based intervention, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation use, prolonged ventilation, prolonged hospital length of stay, or death) were explored. Secondary endpoints were parameters of severity of illness, chest drainage duration, and length of stay. Measurements and Main Results: Of 128 patients undergoing Fontan operation, 34 met criteria for composite outcome. Alveolar dead-space fraction was significantly higher in the composite (0.33 ± 0.14) versus control (0.25 ± 0.26; p = 0.016) group. Alveolar dead-space fraction greater than or equal to 0.29 indicated a 37% increase in risk to meet composite criteria. Admission arterial oxygen saturation was significantly lower in composite versus control group (93.4% vs 97.1%; p = 0.005). Alveolar dead-space fraction was significantly associated with increased durations of mechanical ventilation, ICU length of stay, duration of thoracic drainage, and parameters of severity of illness. Conclusions: Alveolar dead-space fraction and arterial saturation may predict complicated postoperative course in patients undergoing the Fontan operation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E200-E206
JournalPediatric Critical Care Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Fontan operation
  • alveolar dead-space fraction
  • oxyhemoglobin saturation
  • postoperative outcomes
  • total cavopulmonary connection


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