Tetralogy of Fallot

What is Tetralogy of Fallot?

Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) is a rare condition that occurs as a result of four congenital heart abnormalities that affect the organ’s structure. It causes the blood that is oxygen-poor to flow away from the child’s heart to the rest of his body, creating various issues due to insufficient oxygen levels. A child is more likely to develop the disorder if the mother dealt with alcoholism or was infected with a viral illness like rubella during her pregnancy. The baby is also at increased risk if there is a family history.

The four abnormalities that make up Tetralogy of Fallot include a narrow pulmonary valve, a hole in the ventricle wall, an improperly placed aorta, and a thickened heart wall. It is not currently known what causes the condition. The deformities are usually discovered early and diagnosed in infancy or shortly thereafter. However, in some cases, it may not become apparent until the child is older depending on the severity of the condition.

What are the Symptoms of Tetralogy of Fallot?

Patients who were born with tetralogy of Fallot may exhibit a variety of symptoms such as:

  • Blue-tinged skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart murmur
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fainting
  • Inability to exercise
  • Nail deformities
  • Irritability

Some additional indications of the condition in newborns include feeding difficulties, poor weight gain, prolonged crying, and failure to thrive.

How is Tetralogy of Fallot Treated?

Within their first year of life, newborns are likely to undergo open-heart surgery to repair the abnormalities. After that, they will require ongoing care. In addition to closely monitoring the condition for any changes, they may be given antibiotics to ward off any potential infections. Though some children will need to be limited in their physical activities, many grow up to live normal lives after surgery. Adults with the condition may be prescribed a vasodilator medication to widen the blood vessels and improve blood flow.