Tetralogy of Fallot is a birth defect. This defect consists of 4 problems with the heart:
The hole between the ventricles means that oxygen-rich blood mixes with oxygen-poor blood. Narrowed pulmonary arteries and pulmonary valve means less blood can reach the lungs. These defects make the right ventricle work extra hard. It gets bigger and thicker. When oxygen-poor blood flows through the aorta to the body, your child’s skin looks blue.
Babies with this condition are born with it. What causes it is not known.
Children with this birth defect often look blue. The blueness may appear at birth or soon after. Babies may have spells during which they turn blue, breathe rapidly, and cry. They may pass out. During exercise, older children who have not had surgery often get short of breath and may tire easily. They may squat during exercise to help them catch their breath. These symptoms happen because the children are not getting enough oxygen. Not enough blood is flowing to the lungs to pick up the oxygen their body needs
Children with this defect usually have a heart murmur, which a healthcare provider can hear with a stethoscope. A heart murmur is an extra sound made between heartbeats. These murmurs are caused by the blood flowing abnormally through the heart.
To diagnose the problem, the following tests may be done:
To correct the problem, surgery is done to close the hole between the two lower heart chambers. This usually requires a patch of synthetic material such as Dacron.
The surgeon will also relieve the narrowing at the pulmonary valve. This may be done in several ways:
After surgery, most children are able to do all normal things, including sports. Some children need to limit their activities. Some may need to take medicine to control their heart rate and to help their heart pump better. Later in life, they may have abnormal heart rhythms.
Children with tetralogy of Fallot should see a cardiologist who specializes in congenital heart disease regularly for the rest of their lives.
Ask your healthcare provider if your child should take antibiotics to prevent infection before having dental work or procedures that involve the rectum, bladder, or vagina.