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Tetralogy of Fallot (say "fuh-LOH") is a type of congenital heart disease. Congenital heart disease refers to heart problems a baby is born with. These heart problems are usually diagnosed at or before birth.
Fallot is the name of a doctor who found this problem. A "tetralogy" is a group of four related things. So this heart problem is actually a set of four different problems in the baby's heart.
The heart has two main jobs: send oxygen-rich blood (red blood) from the lungs out to the body, and bring oxygen-poor blood (blue blood) from the body back to the lungs. The four problems in tetralogy of Fallot keep the heart from doing these jobs well. The problems include:
These heart problems keep your baby's body from getting enough oxygen.
Your doctor may hear abnormal heart sounds, such as a heart murmur, when examining your newborn.
Your doctor will order tests to find the cause of abnormal sounds or of symptoms. The most common test used to identify this problem is called an echocardiogram, or "echo" for short. It uses sound waves to make an image of your baby's heart.
Your baby may have other tests, such as an ECG or EKG (electrocardiogram), chest X-ray, and checking the amount of oxygen in the blood.
A fetal ultrasound, which lets your doctor see an image of your baby before birth, sometimes finds this problem.
Symptoms of tetralogy of Fallot may include:
Your doctor will help you understand your baby's condition, your treatment choices, and what to expect from each choice.
Your baby may get medicine that helps keep red blood flowing to the body. The medicine may be given through a blood vessel in the belly button.
Your baby will need open-heart surgery to repair the problems.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
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Current as of: September 7, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
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