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In a healthy heart, oxygen-poor (blue) blood returns to the right chamber of the heart (atrium) from the body. Next, it travels to the right ventricle of the heart. Then it’s pumped through the pulmonary artery into the lungs for oxygen. Oxygen-rich (red) blood comes back to the left chamber of the heart from the lungs. Then it passes into the left ventricle of the heart. Finally, it’s pumped through the aorta to the body.
In a child with tetralogy of Fallot, the following can happen:
The symptoms of tetralogy of Fallot may be similar to symptoms caused by other problems. Make sure that your child sees a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your child’s heart doctor will check your baby. He or she will listen to your baby's heart and lungs. The details about your child’s heart murmur will also help the doctor make the diagnosis.
Your child’s doctor may then do tests to confirm the diagnosis. The tests your child has depends on his or her age and condition, and the doctor’s preferences.
A chest X-ray may show changes in the heart and lungs caused by tetralogy of Fallot.
This test records the electrical activity of the heart. It also shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias) and spots heart muscle stress. These issues may be caused by caused by tetralogy of Fallot.
An echo uses sound waves to make a moving picture of the heart and heart valves. This test may show structural changes caused by tetralogy of Fallot.
A cardiac catheterization gives detailed information about the structures inside the heart. In this test, a small, thin, flexible tube (catheter) is put into a blood vessel in your child’s groin. Then the healthcare provider guides it to your child’s heart. Your child’s healthcare provider will inject your child with contrast dye to see his or her heart more clearly. This test measures your child’s blood pressure and oxygen in the 4 chambers of the heart. It also measures blood pressure and oxygen in the pulmonary artery and aorta. Your child will get medicine to help relax and prevent pain (sedation).
All children with tetralogy of Fallot need to have surgery to fix it. Most children have it before they turn 1 year old. It’s often done around 6 months of age. A team of heart surgeons will do your child’s surgery.
Fixing the heart defects will allow oxygen-poor blood to travel its normal route. It will go through the pulmonary artery to get oxygen.
This condition often doesn’t cause complications. If left untreated, it can cause the following problems:
Your child's heart doctor may give him or her antibiotics to prevent infections after leaving the hospital. Your child may also need medicine before other surgeries or dental tests.
Most children who have surgery for this condition will live healthy lives. They may need a pulmonary valve replacement surgery when they are adults. This will help prevent heart complications. These include enlargement of the right ventricle, abnormal heart rhythms, and heart failure. Women who want to have children should be checked by a heart doctor before they get pregnant.
Ask your child's healthcare provider about your child’s outlook.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.