Application of Computer Modeling in Systemic VAD Support of Failing Fontan Physiology

Lucian A. Durham, Joseph A. Dearani, Harold M. Burkhart, Lyle D. Joyce, Frank Cetta, Allison K. Cabalka, Sabrina D. Phillips, Kartik Sundareswaran, David Farrar, Soon J. Park

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Although the Fontan procedure has been enormously successful in palliation of single-ventricle patients, many seem to experience progressive failure of the Fontan circulation over time. Ventricular assist devices (VADs) have developed into stable platforms for long-term support of adult patients with heart failure. Given the success of axial flow devices, it was hypothesized that the technology could provide clinical benefit to failing Fontan patients. The aim of this study was to use a computer model to evaluate VAD support in failing Fontan physiology. A computer model of Fontan circulation with heart failure was developed and the HeartMate II (HM II) (Thoratec Corp) axial flow ventricular assist device was connected to this model in a systemic configuration to examine its impact. Cardiac catheterization data from 7 patients (8 catheterization studies) with failing Fontan physiology were applied to this model to evaluate the impact of using the HM II in this manner. When the HM II was used in a systemic configuration at 8000 rpm, there was a 35% decrease in the systemic venous pressure in the Fontan circuit and a 63% decrease in pulmonary capillary wedge pressure with a resultant 41% increase in CI. The model also predicted patient-specific parameters where the VAD may not benefit the patient, such as fixed elevated pulmonary vascular resistance, low systemic ventricular end-diastolic pressure, and high unresponsive systemic vascular resistance. These data suggest a potential benefit from application of axial flow VAD technology in the management of failing Fontan physiology. Clinical correlation will allow for refinement of this model as a predictive tool in discerning which patients may benefit from placement of a VAD and what issues must be addressed prior to implanting the device.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-248
Number of pages6
JournalWorld Journal for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Fontan failure
  • heart failure
  • mathematical modeling
  • single-ventricle physiology
  • ventricular assist device

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Application of Computer Modeling in Systemic VAD Support of Failing Fontan Physiology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this