The Fontan procedure is typically the last in the series of operations used to treat hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Generally, it is performed on infants and children between eighteen months and three years old. Before the procedure, the child will have a heart catheterization performed. In the procedure itself, specialists connect the inferior vena cava, a vessel that transports blood from the lower body back to the heart, with the pulmonary artery. This connection allows significantly more blood to be transported to the lungs. As a result, poorly oxygenated and highly oxygenated blood are no longer mixed together in the heart. After the procedure, many babies regain a normal skin color and no longer have a bluish tinge. Some children may require a follow-up catheterization procedure in the six to twelve months following the Fontan procedure.
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