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Use of a Postoperative Care Management Pathway Reduces the Incidence of Chylothorax Post-Fontan Palliation.

Pleural effusions and chylothorax are challenging morbidities post-Fontan palliation. We sought to evaluate the efficacy of our Fontan Care Pathway (FCP) in reducing the incidence of post-operative chylothorax and Time to Chest Tube Removal (TTCTR), and to determine risk factors associated with longer TTCTR. Between 2016 and 2022 our institutional approach to post-Fontan care fell into three categories: Group 1 (n = 36): no standardized approach; Group 2 (n = 30): a prophylactic chylothorax diet (fat content < 5%); Group 3 (n = 57): the FCP (a chylothorax diet, fluid restriction, supplemental O2 and aggressive diuresis). The incidence of chylothorax and TTCTR was compared between groups. Predictors of TTCTR were analyzed using linear regression modelling, adjusting for covariates. Chylothorax rate decreased in Group 3 compared to Groups 1 and 2 (9% vs. 28% and 33% respectively, p = 0.011), without alteration in TTCTR. Univariate factors associated with median TTCTR included chylothorax (+ 13.7 days, p = 0.001), additional procedures at time of Fontan (+ 2.4 days per procedure p = 0.017), Fontan revision or takedown (+ 11.7 days, p = 0.018) and minor/major complications (+ 5.1, p = 0.01 and + 15.8, p < 0.001, respectively). On multivariable analysis, chylothorax (+ 6.5 days, p = 0.005) and major complications (+ 15.8 days, p = 0.001) were associated with increased TTCTR. When chylothorax was excluded from multivariable analysis, the FCP showed a significant decrease in TTCTR (- 3.3 days, p = 0.034). A bundled therapy approach was associated with reduced laboratory confirmed chylothorax post-Fontan, whereas diet change alone was not. Additional studies in this area, with larger sample sizes are warranted.

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