The Glenn and Fontan Procedures for Pediatric Patients

The Glenn and Fontan procedures are done to redirect blood flow. The procedures are done because one of the two ventricles cannot pump blood effectively. It may be weak, small or missing altogether. The Glenn and Fontan allow blood to be routed directly to the lungs, leaving the ventricle that is able to work well to pump blood to the body.

For a Fontan procedure, the surgeon needs to know as much as possible about other heart defects that may be present before surgery. Our specially trained team is experienced in caring for children with a wide variety of congenital heart disease.

Since 2000, surgeons at Children’s have performed more than 380 Fontan procedures with a 99 percent 30-day in-hospital survival rate. Infants who undergo the first of multiple operations in the first few weeks of life have special medical and developmental needs—surgeons and the cardiac team provide continuous care.

What do the Glenn and Fontan Procedures treat?

  • Tricuspid atresia
  • Pulmonary atresia with a hypoplastic right ventricle or a tricuspid valve
  • Single ventricle variants
  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome 

What are the Glenn and Fontan Procedures?

  • Stage II (Glenn Anastomosis)
    The main vein that routes oxygen-poor blood from the upper half of the body (superior vena cava) is connected to the pulmonary artery—providing a reliable source of blood flow to the lungs.
  • Stage III
    The vein that routes oxygen–poor blood from the lower half of the body (inferior vena cava) is connected to the pulmonary artery—directing the oxygen-poor venous blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen, after which the single ventricle drives it out to the body again.

What Should the Glenn and Fontan Procedures do?

After both of the Glenn and Fontan procedures are done, oxygen–poor blood from the body can travel to the lungs for oxygen. In cases where the left ventricle is missing or too small to pump blood, surgeons use these procedures to bypass the right side of the heart and send oxygen–poor blood directly to the lungs. The right ventricle may then be used as the heart’s main pumping chamber, sending oxygen–rich blood to the body.

Outcomes at Children's

Visit our Volumes and Outcomes section to learn about: