Pediatric Fontan Program

Pediatric Fontan Program

Expert care for your child after the Fontan procedure

We’re one of the few pediatric hospitals in the United States with a Fontan program that’s dedicated to helping children with single ventricles (hypoplastic left/right heart syndrome) live their healthiest life possible.

Many children enjoy active lives after the Fontan procedure and live well into adulthood. However, the Fontan procedure is not a cure for their heart defect. Even if your child isn't showing any visible problems after a Fontan procedure, they still have complex health needs that must be monitored to avoid the risk of serious complications later in life. These include:

  • Obstruction/narrowing of the Fontan pathway, lung arteries and aorta
  • Valve leakage
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Heart failure
  • Problems with their lymphatic system
  • Problems with their liver, lungs and/or kidneys

We know caring for a child with this complex condition can seem overwhelming. That’s why we developed a special Fontan program to help children live their healthiest life possible. Our team brings together specialists dedicated to treating all the needs children with complex single ventricle conditions face, including:

  • Heart health
  • Lung health
  • Liver health
  • Neurodevelopmental health
  • Nutritional health
  • Social/emotional health

We treat more children who have had the Fontan procedure than many hospitals in Texas. Our expert team allows us to anticipate and manage the complex health issues for these patients. We can help your child stay as healthy as possible during and after treatment.

Innovative procedures for Fontan patients

We’re one of the few hospitals in the world that offers Interventional Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Imaging (iCMR) for high-risk Fontan patients. This means we do an MRI and a cardiac catheterization procedure at the same time. Since just one procedure is needed, your child will only go under anesthesia once and their radiation exposure is limited. At most hospitals, a high-risk Fontan patient must have separate appointments for their MRI and cardiac catheterization and typically undergoes general anesthesia twice.

The iCMR is an innovative tool for getting a more precise diagnosis of your child’s condition and developing a treatment plan. The information we get from the combined MRI and cardiac catheterization procedure helps us to make critical decisions about next steps. The lymphatic data we collect helps us decide what treatment will work best for your child.

Here are a few of the benefits the iCMR offers:

  • Shows our team real-time images of the heart from multiple angles
  • Helps guide catheterization
  • Avoids and/or decreases the total amount of radiation your child is exposed to
  • Reduces the number of times your child goes under anesthesia
  • Saves you from making two separate trips to the hospital

Preventing and treating lymphatic complications

A buildup of lymph in the lungs is one of the most common health issues that can develop after the Fontan procedure. Lymph fluid is part of the drainage system that is under high pressure in patients with single ventricle defects. Lymphatic leakage, abnormal connections and a buildup in the lung airways can cause serious breathing problems and be life-threatening.

Our team is among the most experienced in the nation at performing a special lymphatic intervention procedure to seal off the abnormal channels that let lymph enter the lungs. This allows your child to recover and avoid developing this complication again.

Offering a comprehensive, team approach to Fontan care

Our team of specialists works closely with each other and with you to provide the highest quality, most convenient care. We evaluate your child from every angle, so we can develop a care plan that addresses all aspects of their health. Our care includes:

  • Coordinating your child’s care. Your child may need to see a variety of specialists. We know that arranging all these appointments can be complicated. That’s why we schedule everything on your behalf.
  • Coordinating your appointments. Whenever possible, appointments with every specialist you need are scheduled at the same facility on the same day.
  • Answering questions when you need us. We’ll give you the direct phone line to our clinic coordinator who can answer your questions.

Meet the Care Team