After surgery, the patient will be in an intensive care unit. A number of systems are used to monitor the patient's heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, temperature, and breathing rate. Monitoring is gradually discontinued as the person recovers. Before leaving the hospital, the family will be instructed on how to care for their child at home. This includes information on medications, caring for the incision, and activity limitations.
The patient will require continuing care. The doctor will schedule routine check-ups to make sure the procedure was successful and to monitor any new problems. The Fontan operation is palliative, not curative. The limitations children experience due to their heart defect can vary greatly. There are children with Fontan circulations who have participated in competitive sports. Other children have significant limitations in regards to their exercise capacity. Most children fall somewhere in the middle of these extremes. Many cases result in normal or near-normal growth, development, exercise tolerance, and good quality of life.
Let the doctor know if the patient develops problems, such as:
- Redness, swelling, or bleeding from the incision
- Rapid breathing
- Excessive fatigue or tiredness
- Decreased appetite or refusal to eat
- Increased pain