Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is the most common lethal cardiac malformation of the newborn. Its treatment, apart from heart transplantation, is the Norwood operation. The initial procedure for this staged repair consists of reconstructing a circulation where a single outlet from the heart provides systemic perfusion and an interpositioning shunt contributes blood flow to the lungs. To better understand this unique physiology, a computational model of the Norwood circulation was constructed on the basis of compartmental analysis. Influences of shunt diameter, systemic and pulmonary vascular resistance, and heart rate on the cardiovascular dynamics and oxygenation were studied. Simulations showed that 1) larger shunts diverted an increased proportion of cardiac output to the lungs, away from systemic perfusion, resulting in poorer O2 delivery, 2) systemic vascular resistance exerted more effect on hemodynamics than pulmonary vascular resistance, 3) systemic arterial oxygenation was minimally influenced by heart rate changes, 4) there was a better correlation between venous O2 saturation and O2 delivery than between arterial O2 saturation and O2 delivery, and 5) a pulmonary-to-systemic blood flow ratio of 1 resulted in optimal O2 delivery in all physiological states and shunt sizes.
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