Stress imaging in patients with a Fontan circulation: A systematic review

Charlotte N G Lanser, Wessel H A van Poecke, Linda Scheffers, Linda E van den Berg, Willem A Helbing*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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INTRODUCTION: The aims of this study were to provide an overview of the cardiac stress response in Fontan patients and of the use, safety and clinical value of stress imaging in Fontan patients.

METHODS: Studies evaluating cardiac function using stress imaging in Fontan patients published up until 12 December 2021 were included in this review.

RESULTS: From 1603 potential studies, 32 studies met the inclusion criteria. In total, stress imaging tests of 728 Fontan patients were included. Cardiac function was most often measured using physical stress (61%), all other studies used dobutamine-induced stress. Stroke volume (SV) increased in most studies (71%), mean SV at rest ranged from 27 mL/m 2 to 60 mL/m 2 versus 27 mL/m 2 to 101 mL/m 2 during stress, and increased with an average of 4%. Ejection fraction increased in almost all studies, whereas both end-systolic volume and end-diastolic volume decreased during stress. Higher heart rates were obtained with physical stress (82-180) compared to dobutamine induced stress (73-128). Compared to controls, increases in heartrate and SV were lower and end-diastolic volume decreased abnormally in 75% of reporting studies. No major adverse events were reported. Poorer cardiac stress response was related to decreased exercise capacity and higher risk for long-term (adverse) outcomes in Fontan patients.

DISCUSSION: Cardiac stress response in Fontan patients differs from healthy subjects, reflected by lower increases in heart rate, diminished preload and decreased cardiac output, especially during higher levels of exercise. Stress imaging is safe, however the added clinical value needs to be investigated in more detail.

Original languageEnglish
Article number131192
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
Early online date19 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2023


  • Cardiac magnetic resonance
  • Cardiac stress imaging
  • Dobutamine
  • Echocardiography
  • Fontan circulation
  • Single ventricle


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