Congenital heart defects

Heart Disease

Treatment of congenital heart defects

In tetralogy of Fallot, surgery may be needed to increase blood flow to the lungs with a shunt, linking the aorta and the pulmonary artery. The child is able to develop and the defect can be corrected later.

An arterial switch operation may be necessary to reconnect the arteries correctly. With holes in the heart, oygenated, red blood from the lungs passes into the right side of the heart, where it mixes with bluish blood and is sent back to the lungs. The heart is put under extra strain, potentially causing it to enlarge and causing high blood pressure and blood vessel damage. Growth and nourishment are affected.

Holes in the heart are closed with one or two patches and the single valve is divided into two. Blood circulation should be returned to normal but the reconstructed valve may not work normally.

If the defect is too complex to repair in infancy, a pulmonary artery band may be surgically used to reduce blood flow and high pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension). The band is later removed and surgery carried out.

Balloon valvuloplasty, which involves threading a balloon through a dilated heart valve, is usually used to correct pulmonary valvular stenosis, although open-heart surgery may be necessary.