Children's Hospital Colorado
Heart institute
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Heart institute

About the Single Ventricle Clinic at Children's Hospital Colorado

What is single ventricle heart disease?

Some children with congenital heart defects (heart conditions present at birth) have only one effective pumping chamber, a condition known as single ventricle heart disease.

Single ventricle heart diseases, such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome and tricuspid atresia, are treated by performing a Fontan operation early in a child’s life. The Fontan operation does not completely repair the heart defect, but allows the child to grow up and a lead normal, active life. However, these children also face health challenges that are best cared for by a multidisciplinary, evidence-based program like the Single Ventricle Clinic at Children’s Colorado.

How do we help kids after a Fontan operation?

Specialists in the Single Ventricle Clinic provide expert consultation and treatment of the unique issues that arise after the Fontan operation. For example, the Fontan circulation may affect a patient’s lungs, liver, intestines, bones, blood and other organ systems. Our specialists have expertise in evaluating and treating problems like plastic bronchitis and protein-losing enteropathy. Also, children may have everyday challenges with self-esteem and other issues in school. We have developed ways to manage those issues and others based on current research and clinical experience.

Why choose Children’s Colorado for treatment after a Fontan surgery

The Single Ventricle Clinic offers:

  • An evaluation by a team of experts in cardiology, pulmonary medicine, liver disease, and neurodevelopmental psychology. 
  • Established evidence-based guidelines that encourage proactive screening for issues known to occur in children who have had a Fontan operation. 
  • Access to a group of experts when problems unique to the Fontan circulation occur, such as plastic bronchitis or protein-losing enteropathy.
  • Support from child life specialists, child psychiatry/psychology and other providers. Families can explore concerns about their child’s quality of life, relationships with friends and family and other important non-medical aspects of life after Fontan operation.

The only Single Ventricle Clinic in the Rocky Mountain Region

Ours is the only program in a seven-state region dedicated to caring for all the health concerns for kids who have had a Fontan operation. This program is an innovative, new approach to the care of children who have had a Fontan operation.

Access to a team of pediatric experts

Our team includes pediatric cardiologists who specialize in single ventricle heart disease. The other subspecialists on the team have a specific interest and clinical experience in Fontan-related problems, and our multidisciplinary team allows us to provide care for all of a patient’s health concerns in one place.

Our team of specialists includes:

  • Pediatric cardiologists
  • Pediatric gastroenterologists
  • Pediatric pulmonologists
  • Neurodevelopmental psychologists (specializing in treatment of developmental delays, such as missed milestones or learning difficulties)
  • Child psychiatrists/psychologists (specializing in treatment of behavioral issues, like depression and anxiety)
  • Other subspecialists, including physicians with expertise in the areas of clotting disorders and bone health, among others. 

Specific conditions we treat

Some of the heart conditions that we treat include:

  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome
  • Tricuspid atresia (hypoplastic right heart syndrome)
  • Unbalanced common atrioventricular canal
  • Double-inlet left ventricle
  • Double-outlet right ventricle
  • All other forms of single ventricle heart disease

We also treat many issues related to single ventricle heart disease, including:

  • Heart rhythm abnormalities
  • Residual structural heart problems
  • Decreased heart function
  • Lung disease, such as plastic bronchitis and others
  • Intestinal issues, like protein-losing enteropathy and others
  • Anxiety, depression and learning difficulties

Services offered

Tests:

Treatments and associated clinics include:

Research

Our program participates in the National Pediatric Cardiology Quality Improvement Collaborative, a national research program for single ventricle heart disease. We are also an auxiliary site for the Pediatric Heart Network Fontan Udenafil Longitudinal Assessment Trial (FUEL).

Learn more about your visit to the Heart Institute.


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