Pulmonary valve stenosis is a type of congenital heart defect. Congenital heart defects are heart problems a baby is born with. These heart problems are usually diagnosed at or before birth.
"Pulmonary" means "of the lungs." The pulmonary artery takes the blood from the heart to the lungs to pick up new oxygen. The pulmonary valve is the gate through which the heart pumps blood into the pulmonary artery.
"Stenosis" means "narrowed." In pulmonary valve stenosis, that gate is too narrow. The heart has to work harder to push blood through it. It also means less blood gets to the lungs. In more severe cases, this can mean that the blood going out to the body doesn't have enough oxygen.
A baby with pulmonary valve stenosis may also have other heart defects.
It can be scary to learn that there is something wrong with your baby's heart. The hospital staff understands this. They will explain what happens and will answer your questions.
Your doctor may hear abnormal heart sounds, such as a heart murmur, when he or she examines your newborn.
Your doctor will order tests to find the cause of abnormal heart sounds or of symptoms. The most common test is 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 to find the problem, such as an EKG (electrocardiogram) or a chest X-ray. Another test may look at the amount of oxygen in the blood.
A fetal ultrasound, which looks at the baby's heart, may find this defect before birth.
Many cases are mild and cause no symptoms. In more severe cases, the baby may have a blue tint to the skin. The baby may also breathe faster and tire easily with physical exertion and during feeding. This is because not enough oxygen is getting to the baby's body.
Many mild cases do not need treatment. But stenosis may get worse, especially during the baby's first year. So your baby will need regular checkups.
In more serious cases, treatment may include a procedure to stretch the valve so that it is more open. Sometimes surgery is needed to repair or replace the valve.
Your doctor will explain what symptoms to watch for at home. Regular checkups will help your doctor watch your baby for symptoms over time.
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 call line 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: December 6, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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