Tetralogy of fallot(patient information)
Tetralogy of Fallot
Tetralogy of Fallot On the Web
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Tetralogy of Fallot refers to a type of congenital heart defect. Congenital means present at birth. Tetralogy of Fallot is classified as a cyanotic heart defect because the condition causes low oxygen levels in the blood. This leads to cyanosis (a bluish-purple color to the skin).
- Ventricular septal defect (hole between the right and left ventricles)
- Narrowing of the pulmonary outflow tract (the valve and artery that connect the heart with the lungs)
- Overriding aorta (the artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to the body) that is shifted over the right ventricle and ventricular septal defect, instead of coming out only from the left ventricle
- A thickened muscular wall of the right ventricle (right ventricular hypertrophy)
What are the symptoms of Tetralogy of Fallot?
The most common symptoms include:
- Clubbing of fingers (skin or bone enlargement around the fingernails)
- Cyanosis, which becomes more pronounced when the baby is upset
- Difficult feeding (poor feeding habits)
- Failure to gain weight
- Passing out
- Poor development
- Squatting during episodes of cyanosis
What causes Tetralogy of Fallot?
The cause of most congenital heart defects is unknown. Many factors seem to be involved.
Factors that increase the risk for this condition during pregnancy include:
- Alcoholism in the mother
- Mother who is over 40 years old
- Poor nutrition during pregnancy
- Rubella or other viral illnesses during pregnancy
- There is a high incidence of chromosomal disorders in children with tetralogy of Fallot, such as Down syndrome and DiGeorge syndrome (a condition that causes heart defects, low calcium levels, and immune deficiency).
- Delayed growth and development
- Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
- Seizures during periods when there is not enough oxygen.
Exams and Tests
Tests may include:
- Chest x-ray
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- MRI of the heart (generally after surgery)
Surgery to repair tetralogy of Fallot is done when the infant is very young. Sometimes more than one surgery is needed. When more than one surgery is used, the first surgery is done to help increase blood flow to the lungs.
Surgery to correct the problem may be done at a later time. Often only one corrective surgery is performed in the first few months of life. Corrective surgery is done to widen part of the narrowed pulmonary tract and close the ventricular septal defect.
Surgery for a VSD with no symptoms is controversial. This should be carefully discussed with your health care provider.
When to Contact a Medical Professional?
Most often, this condition is diagnosed during routine examination of an infant. Call your infant's health care provider if the baby seems to be having difficulty breathing, or if the baby seems to have an unusual number of respiratory infections.
There is no known prevention.