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Late hepatic complications after Fontan operation; non-invasive markers of hepatic fibrosis and risk factors


Objective To identify the prevalence, clinical characteristics, risk factors of hepatic complications after a Fontan operation.

Methods This was a cross-sectional study of 139 Fontan patients who underwent cardiac CT scans out of a total of 204 patients who had undergone the Fontan procedure between 1986 and 2003. Mean age was 19.0±6.3 years and mean elapsed time since the initial Fontan operation was 11.5±4.7 years. Subjects' clinical features, echocardiograms, radiological features and biochemical test results were reviewed. Various non-invasive hepatic fibrosis blood markers were also evaluated.

Results Fifty-seven patients had hepatic complications, including radiological features of liver cirrhosis (25.9%), thrombocytopenia (7.2%), hyperbilirubinaemia (20.9%) and hepatic masses (2.9%). Hepatic complications were also significantly associated with ventricular dysfunction (p=0.020), absence of fenestration (p=0.004), thrombus in the Fontan tract (p=0.027), sinus node dysfunction (p=0.034) and tachyarrhythmia (p<0.001). In a multivariate analysis, the elapsed time since the initial Fontan operation was the only measure that was correlated with hepatic complications; the odds ratio of the post-Fontan duration of 16–20 years to that of 0–5 years was 9.00 (CI 2.24 to 36.17). The non-invasive hepatic fibrosis blood marker (Forns index) was also correlated with the elapsed time since the initial Fontan operation (r=0.718, p<0.001).

Conclusion Late hepatic dysfunction and cirrhotic change were often seen in Fontan patients. Moreover, hepatic complications were correlated with the duration of Fontan circulation. Therefore, after a Fontan operation, regular evaluation of the hepatic condition is required—for which some non-invasive hepatic fibrosis markers can be effectively used.

  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Fontan operation
  • congenital heart defect
  • paediatric cardiology

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