What is a Glenn Procedure?

The Glenn procedure is officially known as the Bi-directional Glenn Shunt Procedure.  It is the second stage in a three step fix for a Double Inlet Left Ventricle heart defect.

During this surgery, the patient is hooked up to a bypass machine so the heart can be stopped and worked with directly.  The bypass machine pumps the blood similar to the heart, oxygenating it before it is passed back through the body to keep the body alive even as the heart is not working. The first step was to cut off the PA band that was previously placed to prevent damage to the lungs.

This is a depiction given to me by my doctor of what would happen during the Glenn Procedure.
This is a depiction given to me by my doctor of what would happen during the Glenn Procedure.

In a healthy heart the Pulmonary Artery is connected directly to the Right Ventricle, the Aorta is connected to the Left Ventricle and the Superior Vena Cava is connected to the Right Atrium.  In my son’s heart, the Aorta and Pulmonary Artery are both connected to the opposite chambers with both the Tricuspid valve and the Mitral valve dumping into the Left Ventricle.  In order to fix the blood flow issues, the first step is to cut the Superior Vena Cava and directly attach it to the Pulmonary Artery. Then the Pulmonary Artery is over-sewn. This allows the blood that would have been pumped through the heart to flow passively into the lungs to become oxygenated instead.

After this procedure is preformed, the upper half of the body will receive much more oxygenated blood than before. My son had a ‘ruddy’ complexion for a few weeks until his body got used to the extra blood.

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