Tetralogy of Fallot

What is Tetralogy of Fallot?

Tetralogy of Fallot is a rare condition that brings together birth defects caused by abnormal development of the fetal heart during the first eight weeks of pregnancy. These defects cause the heart to supply blood to the rest of the body with insufficient oxygen. This causes the baby’s skin to have a bluish color because the blood does not carry enough oxygen.

The word “tetralogy” already implies the combination of four interrelated problems. The four main problems within this pathology are:

  • Larger than normal ventricular septal defect.
  • Pulmonary stenosis
  • Right ventricular hypertrophy defined as thickening of the muscular wall of the right ventricle.
  • Displaced aorta

Prognosis of the disease

If detected early, surgical treatment is performed, which leads to an improvement of the symptoms. This helps children and adults with tetralogy of Fallot to lead a normal life, with regular check-ups and regulation of physical activity.

Symptoms of Tetralogy of Fallot

The symptoms of this pathology may vary depending on the degree of blood flow obstruction. Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Bluish skin color due to low oxygen.
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Insufficient weight gain
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Prolonged crying
  • Heart murmur

The pediatric cardiologist treats heart disease in the pediatric age group.

Medical tests for tetralogy of Fallot

The medical tests to be performed by the Cardiology expert are:

  • Physical examination
  • Chest X-ray
  • Echocardiography
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging of the heart
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What are the causes of tetralogy of Fallot?

This pathology is characterized by low oxygen levels, so the patient has bluish or purple skin. It is a rare disease that occurs equally in men and women. In addition, people suffering from this pathology usually have other congenital problems. There are factors that may increase the risk of suffering from this pathology:

  • Alcohol during pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Maternity after the age of 40
  • Malnutrition during pregnancy
  • Rubella or other viral diseases occurring during pregnancy

Treatments for tetralogy of Fallot

The treatment for this pathology is surgery and is performed while the patient is still a baby. Depending on the case, more than one surgery may be needed. Sometimes, the first surgery is done in order to dilate the pulmonary tract and increase blood flow to the lungs.

Some patients cannot undergo complete repair, so a temporary repair is performed by cardiac catheterization. This technique consists of implanting a metallic spring at the exit of the right ventricle towards the pulmonary artery. This increases the blood flow to the lungs and the amount of oxygen.

Which specialist treats it?

The pediatric cardiologist treats heart disease in the pediatric age group. It starts when the child is still a fetus, through the diagnosis of intrauterine heart disease, and continues until the end of adolescence. It is a medical-surgical specialty, since, for example, this pathology requires surgical intervention and the pediatric cardiologist must be trained for it.

When the patient has suffered from tetralogy of Fallot, the specialist will have to follow up throughout the patient’s life.