As the name suggests, ‘Tetralogy of Fallot’ is a heart defect caused by a combination of four problems. It is a rare condition which is present at the time of birth of the child (i.e. congenital condition). In this condition, the heart structure is affected, and it cannot function properly. Therefore, the oxygen supply to the body parts is inadequate. If it is not treated immediately, it can become fatal.
The clinical features of Tetralogy of Fallot depend on the severity of the defects.
Most often the following symptoms and signs are displayed in infants:
Physical findings of the infant include:
The exact cause of the congenital diseases is not known.
The four defects which affect the structure and function of the heart are:
Certain factors which may increase the risk of the child getting Tetralogy of Fallot are:
If Tetralogy of Fallot is not treated, it can cause the below complications
Usually, the diagnosis of Tetralogy of Fallot is made soon during infancy. However, if the symptoms are not severe, then the condition may not be detected until later stages of life. An early diagnosis can help in a better treatment to allow the child to lead a normal life with certain restrictions on exercises.
The below medical tests are performed to check if the child has Tetralogy of Fallot:
|Test||Purpose of the test|
|Hemoglobin & hematocrit||To understand the degree of cyanosis Elevation of the levels due to cyanosis|
|Electrocardiogram||Measures the electrical activity of the heart Detects the structural abnormalities in the heart|
|Chest X-ray||Shows an abnormal aorta and a boot-shaped heart due to enlarged right lower chamber|
|Echocardiography||Demonstrates septal defects, the degree of pulmonary stenosis, hole in the wall, etc.|
|Bleeding tendency||Reduced clotting factors, platelet count, and total fibrinogen Prolonged prothrombin time and coagulation time.|
|Cardiac catheterization||To obtain X-ray images through a catheter (a small tube) inserted into the blood vessel and advanced into the heart To detect ventricular septal defects, pulmonary stenosis, size of the pulmonary arteries, overriding aorta|
Doctors can usually identify the Tetralogy of Fallot defect early at the child’s birth and surgically repair it. Children with a simple form of Tetralogy of Fallot can have a quality of life with good life expectancy.
Surgery is the main treatment option for correcting the defects. The corrective is performed in the younger infants to widen the pulmonary tract and improve the blood flow to the lungs. Surgery is usually performed within 2 years of birth. Sometimes more than one surgery is needed.
The child will be given oxygen through a mask to increase the oxygen levels in the blood.
To decrease the severity of tet spells, the child may be given medications such as morphine, propranolol or metoprolol, or, in severe cases, phenylephrine.
People with Tetralogy of Fallot should follow certain precautions as provided below: