Tetralogy of Fallot is defined as a rare condition caused by the combination of four heart defects that are present at birth. These defects, which affect the structure of the heart, and cause poor blood flow out of the heart and into the rest of the body. The infants and children which have tetralogy of Fallot usually have a blue-tinged skin (cyanosis) because their blood is poorly oxygenated. Tetralogy of Fallot is often diagnosed during infancy or soon after.
The symptoms vary depending on the extent of obstruction of blood flow out of the right ventricle and into the lungs. Signs and symptoms may include; cyanosis, shortness of breath, fainting, clubbing of fingers and toes, poor weight gain, tiring easily during play, irritability, prolonged crying and a heart murmur. Tetralogy of Fallot occurs during fetal growth when the baby’s heart is beginning to develop. Factors such as poor maternal nutrition, viral illness or genetic disorders may increase the risk of this condition, but in most cases the cause is unknown.
The four abnormalities which make up tetralogy of Fallot include: Pulmonary valve stenosis, Ventricular septal defect, Overriding aorta, and Right ventricular hypertrophy. Pulmonary valve stenosis is a narrowing of the pulmonary valve, which is the main blood vessel leading to the lungs. Ventricular sepatl defect is a hole in the wall which separates the right and left ventricles of the heart. The hole allows deoxygenated blood from the right ventricle to flow into the left ventricle mixing with oxygenated blood and vice versa.
Overriding aorta , this is when the aorta is shifted to the right and lies directly above the ventricular septal defect. The last defect is Right ventricular hypertrophy, this is when the heart’s pumping action is overworked and is causes the muscular wall of the right ventricle to enlarge and thicken. This could eventually cause the heart to stiffen, weaken and eventually fail. The prognosis for children born with tetralogy of Fallot has improved vastly over the years. Most people born with tetralogy of Fallot have heart surgery during childhood, but some have surgery later in life.
Adult and children who have tetralogy of Fallot may have surgery to repair their heart defect which is known as complete repair or to relieve their symptoms which is known as palliation. Palliation is only administered when complete repair is not possible. ?