Fletcher Allen, a Vermont university hospital and medical center, serves all of
Vermont and the northern New York region. Located in Burlington, Fletcher Allen is a regional, academic healthcare center and teaching hospital in alliance with the University of Vermont.
Tetrology of FallotWhat is Tetralogy of Fallot?
Tetralogy of Fallot is a name given to a complex of four cardiac malformations when they appear together:
- Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)
- Pulmonary Stenosis (narrowing)
- Right Ventricular Hypertrophy (enlargement)
- Overriding Aorta
What are the warning signs and symptoms of Tetralogy of Fallot?
The most common warning signs and symptoms of Tetralogy appear in a newborn or young infant and include:
- Bluish coloring around the mouth, lips, tongue, and fingertips (called cyanosis)
- Presence of a heart murmur
How is Tetralogy of Fallot detected?
Usually Tetralogy patients are initially referred for evaluation because of a heart murmur or cyanosis. This leads to performing an echocardiogram and the diagnosis of Tetralogy is documented. Occasionally, a cardiac catheterization with angiography is needed prior to surgery to obtain more detailed anatomical information.
What are the treatment options for Tetralogy of Fallot?
Patients with Tetralogy of Fallot generally undergo surgery in infancy. Most often a complete repair is performed with patch closure of the Ventricular Septal Defect and widening of the outflow from the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery. Occasionally it is too dangerous to perform open-heart surgery on a particular infant and a temporizing surgery is performed called a shunt, which allows more blood to flow to the lungs. The open-heart repair is then deferred until the patient gets bigger.
Occasionally infants will have periods of inconsolable crying accompanied by a severe increase in cyanosis (called "Tet Spells") requiring immediate notification to the child's physician.