Complex Single Ventricle Repair

Most children are born with two ventricles that pump blood to the lungs and the body. Complex single ventricle is a term that describes a group of rare heart defects in which the heart has a single main pumping chamber (ventricle) that performs the work of both ventricles, having to pump blood to both the lungs and body. Without surgery, most children with single ventricles will not survive to their first birthday.

Complex single ventricle defects include:

A complex single ventricle repair is tailored to the type of defect and many other factors. It takes experience, skill and training to match the right treatment with your child’s unique condition.

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons has rated Norton Children’s Heart Institute’s pediatric heart care among the best in the region. Norton Children’s Heart Institute has a network of remote diagnostic and treatment services in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Our specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute will be able to identify a treatment plan that is specially designed for your child’s type of complex single ventricle.

Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, is the leading provider of pediatric heart care in Louisville and Southern Indiana.

What Happens in a Complex Single Ventricle Repair?

A complex single ventricle defect is a serious heart condition that causes one ventricle of the heart to have to do the workload of two ventricles. Patients also have lower oxygen levels than expected. A child with a complex single ventricle may need two or three heart surgeries during the first three years of life.

The overall goal of the surgeries is to separate the body’s two circulation paths, allowing the child’s oxygen saturation to become normal, or as close to normal as possible. After all repair stages are completed, the patient’s single ventricle will pump blood to the body and blood will passively return to the lungs without the use of a “right-sided” ventricle.

What Procedures Are Used to Repair Complex Single Ventricles?

Depending on a child’s specific condition, the following procedures may be used:

  • Blalock-Taussig or central shunt: Heart specialists will perform this procedure in the first week or two of life. The shunt is a small tube used to create an alternative route of blood flow to the lungs. This allows for a consistent blood supply to the lungs. In addition, the added flow to the pulmonary arteries enhances the growth of these blood vessels and prepares them for operations that will be done later.
  • Pulmonary artery band: If a child has too much blood flow to the lungs, banding of the pulmonary arteries can precisely limit the amount of blood flow going to the lungs. This prevents the pulmonary blood vessels from being damaged.
  • Glenn procedure: This surgery detours blood from the upper body to the pulmonary artery directly. This also will decrease the workload that the single ventricle is performing. Cardiothoracic surgeons perform this surgery when a child is around 4 to 6 months old.
  • Fontan procedure: This is the final surgery to repair a complex single ventricle. Cardiothoracic surgeons connect the pulmonary artery and the inferior vena cava, effectively separating the body’s two circulations. Now, the patient’s single ventricle will pump blood to the body and blood will passively return to the lungs without the use of a “right-sided” ventricle.

Complex Single Ventricle Repair Complications and After Care

After having the procedures that separate the two body’s circulations, oxygen saturation levels in the blood will become normal or near normal. However, these patients are still left with a single-ventricle heart. This means the heart will have difficulty pumping the amount of blood the body needs (cardiac output). Children with a single ventricle can live active and eventful lives, but they may not be able to exert themselves like children with two ventricles.

A child who has had a complex single ventricle defect repaired will need lifelong care with a cardiologist. The cardiologist will look for developing complications and issues over time, such as abnormal heart rhythms or congestive heart failure. Because they have only one ventricle, these patients are at risk for heart failure early in life and may need to be treated with various medications, or even a heart transplant if their heart failure is severe.

Why Choose Norton Children’s Heart Institute

No other congenital heart surgery program in Kentucky, Ohio or Southern Indiana is rated higher by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons than the Norton Children’s Heart Institute Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery Program.

  • Norton Children’s Hospital is a pioneer in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, performing Kentucky’s first pediatric heart transplant in 1986 and becoming the second site in the United States to perform an infant heart transplant.
  • Our board-certified and fellowship-trained pediatric cardiovascular surgeons are leaders in the field as clinicians and researchers.
  • More than 5,000 children a year visit Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, for advanced heart care.
  • Norton Children’s Heart Institute successfully performs more than 17,500 procedures a year.
  • The Society of Thoracic Surgeons rated Norton Children’s Heart Institute among the best in the region after studying years of our patients’ outcomes and our ability to treat a range of pediatric heart conditions, including the most severe.
  • Norton Children’s Heart Institute has satellite outpatient offices in Ashland, Bowling Green, Campbellsville, Elizabethtown, Frankfort, London, Madisonville, Murray, Owensboro, Paducah and Shepherdsville in Kentucky; as well as Corydon, Jasper, Madison and Scottsburg in Indiana; 28 tele-echocardiography locations in Kentucky and Southern Indiana; and six fetal echocardiography locations across Kentucky.
  • The American Board of Thoracic Surgery has awarded the cardiothoracic surgeons at Norton Children’s Hospital with subspecialty certification in congenital heart surgery.
  • The Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) is the largest dedicated CICU in Kentucky, equipped with 17 private rooms and the newest technology available for heart care.
  • Our multidisciplinary approach to pediatric heart surgery brings together our specialists in cardiothoracic surgery, cardiology, anesthesiology, cardiac critical care and other areas to create a complete care plan tailored for your child.
Heart – 2929

Norton Children’s Heart Institute

Call for an appointment

(502) 629-2929

Tickets on sale for the Norton Children’s Hospital Home & BMW Raffle

Tickets are available now for the 10th annual Norton Children’s Hospital Home & BMW Raffle. The raffle offers a chance to win a new home in Norton Commons valued at approximately $750,000 and a 2021 […]

Read Full Story

Mitral valve prolapse is rarely serious and often has no symptoms

The heart condition of mitral valve prolapse, also known as floppy valve syndrome, involves two flaps in a heart valve that don’t close smoothly or evenly. The condition, which requires monitoring once diagnosed, affects 2% […]

Read Full Story

Sports physicals especially important with coronavirus still looming

With youth sports returning to action with precautions amid the coronavirus pandemic, pediatricians are conducting yearly sports physicals to make sure kids are healthy and fit to engage in physical activity. A sports exam includes […]

Read Full Story

2 years after emergency heart surgery when he was born, Trent is happy and energetic

Trent Robinson was rushed to Norton Children’s Hospital by ambulance from a nearby hospital just after being delivered by emergency cesarean section in March 2018. “He was turning blue. I got to see him for […]

Read Full Story

Norton Children’s creates MIS-C multidisciplinary clinic

Norton Children’s has created a multidisciplinary clinic for children who have experienced multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19. Norton Children’s Pediatric MIS-C Multidisciplinary Clinic will give children who were hospitalized with MIS-C […]

Read Full Story
Related Stories

Tickets on sale for the Norton Children’s Hospital Home & BMW Raffle

Tickets are available now for the 10th annual Norton Children’s Hospital Home & BMW Raffle. The raffle offers a chance to win a new home in Norton Commons valued at approximately $750,000 and a 2021 […]

Read Full Story

Mitral valve prolapse is rarely serious and often has no symptoms

The heart condition of mitral valve prolapse, also known as floppy valve syndrome, involves two flaps in a heart valve that don’t close smoothly or evenly. The condition, which requires monitoring once diagnosed, affects 2% […]

Read Full Story

Sports physicals especially important with coronavirus still looming

With youth sports returning to action with precautions amid the coronavirus pandemic, pediatricians are conducting yearly sports physicals to make sure kids are healthy and fit to engage in physical activity. A sports exam includes […]

Read Full Story

2 years after emergency heart surgery when he was born, Trent is happy and energetic

Trent Robinson was rushed to Norton Children’s Hospital by ambulance from a nearby hospital just after being delivered by emergency cesarean section in March 2018. “He was turning blue. I got to see him for […]

Read Full Story

Norton Children’s creates MIS-C multidisciplinary clinic

Norton Children’s has created a multidisciplinary clinic for children who have experienced multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19. Norton Children’s Pediatric MIS-C Multidisciplinary Clinic will give children who were hospitalized with MIS-C […]

Read Full Story

Search our entire site.