The Fontan circulation is the result of a series of operations performed on children born with univentricular circulations (1). These congenital heart defects are uniformly fatal if left alone. After birth, an operation is performed to assure that the child receives enough blood flow to the lungs, but not too much in order to avoid pulmonary vascular disease. Once the child reaches 2–4 years of age, the child’s blood vessels are sufficiently large for the Fontan operation. The Fontan operation connects the great systemic veins directly to the pulmonary arteries, bypassing the right ventricle entirely. One method of the Fontan procedure, which is known as the total cavopulmonary connection (TCPC), achieves venous return to the pulmonary circulation without a ventricular power source. The load on the heart is reduced, and these patients can lead a normal life into adulthood; although late complications continue to prevent normal lifespan. One unique feature of the Fontan circulation is reliance of the inferior vena cava (IVC) flow on respiration, and flow reversal in the IVC and hepatic vein during expiratory phase of breathing (2). Hsia et al. (3) suggest that reducing flow reversal in the hepatic vein will improve the outcome of the Fontan operation. The goal of this study is to model experimentally the Fontan circulation for a variety of different patients using an adjustable mock circulatory system, which for the first time includes the influence of respiration.

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