Glenn Procedure for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome

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Norton Children’s Heart Institute

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The Glenn procedure is the second of three surgeries for children with single-ventricle defects such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). The Glenn procedure is done after the Norwood procedure and before the Fontan procedure.

The cardiothoracic surgeons at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, typically perform the operation when the patient is between 4 and 6 months old.

As the leading providers of pediatric heart care in Louisville and Southern Indiana, the cardiothoracic surgeons at Norton Children’s Heart Institute are trained and experienced in the Norwood, Glenn and Fontan procedures associated with the treatment of all single-ventricle conditions, including HLHS.

Our board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists will develop a customized treatment plan for you and your child and provide close monitoring between the Norwood and Glenn procedures.

The child will be sent home with a specially equipped iPad and equipment to measure vital signs and other data. Heart rate, oxygen levels and weight are entered at least once a day and sent to the team at Norton Children’s Heart Institute. Sometimes the data can allow for quick action on an issue that wasn’t readily apparent at home.

What Is the Glenn Procedure?

The goals of the open-heart Glenn procedure:

  • Allow blood from the upper part of the body (head, neck and arms) to go directly to the lungs. This lets the blood pick up oxygen without passing through the heart.
  • Take some of the extra work away from the single ventricle. Until now, the only working ventricle in a baby with an HLHS single-ventricle lesion has been pumping blood to both the lungs and the body.

During the Glenn procedure, Norton Children’s Heart Institute cardiothoracic surgeons disconnect the superior vena cava (the vein that brings blood back from the upper part of the body) from the heart and reattach it to the pulmonary artery. These new connections redirect blood flow from the upper body to the lungs.

If present, they also remove the shunt that may have been placed during a previous operation, such as the Norwood procedure. A shunt is no longer needed because blood from the upper body will now go to the pulmonary artery and on to the lungs. Also, the single ventricle now has one job: pumping blood to the body.

Glenn Procedure Recovery

Babies who have the Glenn procedure usually spend one to two weeks in the hospital to recover. They also get medicines to help the heart and improve blood flow. At Norton Children’s Hospital, they will receive around-the-clock care and monitoring.

Fontan Clinic

Growing into adulthood with this unique single-ventricle circulatory system can come with complications and risks affecting the liver, kidneys, heart or lungs.

The Norton Children’s Heart Institute Fontan Clinic provides regular follow-up and monitoring to help spot any emerging issue early and treat it sooner, when more options may be available.

The clinic works in conjunction with the Norton Children’s Heart Institute’s adult congenital heart disease program to provide sophisticated care to patients born with heart conditions.

A child with a single ventricle defect also needs the Glenn procedure because of these reasons.

Why Choose Norton Children’s Heart Institute

  • Norton Children’s Hospital has been 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.
  • The American Board of Thoracic Surgery has certified our cardiothoracic surgeons in congenital heart surgery.
  • The Adult Congenital Heart Association has accredited Norton Children’s Heart Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program as the only comprehensive care center in Kentucky and Indiana treating adults born with a heart defect.
  • More than 5,000 children a year visit Norton Children’s Heart Institute for advanced heart care.
  • Norton Children’s Heart Institute has offices across Kentucky and Southern Indiana to bring quality pediatric heart care closer to home.
  • The Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at Norton Children’s Hospital is the largest dedicated CICU in Kentucky, equipped with 17 private rooms and the newest technology available for heart care.
The Adult Congenital Heart Association has recognized Norton Children's Heart Institute for its expertise treating adult congenital heart disease.

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