TAPVR Treatment

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You welcomed a beautiful new baby into your family. Then you learned their heart isn’t working like it should. And you learned an unfamiliar term: total anomalous pulmonary venous return. Your child will need TAPVR treatment. Understandably, you are scared. The most important thing to know is that you’ve come to the right place.

At UVA Health Children’s, you'll find infant heart surgeons with expertise you can't find everywhere. We're the #1 children’s hospital in Virginia and rank among the nation’s top 50 cardiology and heart surgery programs.

You can trust in our experience in treating babies born with a congenital heart defect. Congenital means present at birth. An experienced surgeon, who is board-certified in congenital heart surgery, leads our congenital heart surgery program. With this expertise, our survival rates meet or exceed national averages for even the most complex congenital heart surgeries.

See our success rates.

What is TAPVR?

We have lots of experience and knowledge about treating your child’s condition. TAPVR means the veins that bring oxygen-filled blood from your baby’s lungs to the heart are not connected correctly. The four pulmonary veins (two from each lung) do not properly connect to the left side of the heart. Babies with TAPVR usually have a hole between the right and left upper heart chambers. This hole allows oxygen-filled blood to get to the left side of the heart, so it can be pumped out to the rest of the body.

Diagnosing TAPVR

TAPVR is difficult to see on an ultrasound, so likely you learned of it after your baby was born. Either doctors found a low blood oxygen level reading or heard a heart murmur (swooshing sound) when they listened to your child’s heartbeat.

We can detect some heart defects before birth. At UVA Health Children's, you’ll find experts who use 3D imaging tools to detect fetal heart defects, so we can have a team ready for your baby’s arrival.

TAPVR Treatment at UVA Health Children's

Your baby will need open-heart surgery. This can seem overwhelming, but we are here for you. With every step, you and your baby will have lots of support. We have a dedicated team that specializes in caring for babies who need surgery and time to recover in the hospital. Your baby will have care from specially trained:

  • Nurses
  • Surgeons
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Critical care doctors
  • Cardiologists

Surgery Timing & Type

Your child might need surgery weeks or months after they are born. It depends on how sick they are and what type of normal connections they have between the pulmonary veins and heart. Your child’s doctor will explain your child’s condition in detail. But in general, a child will have one of four types of TAPVR. The type depends on where the pulmonary veins connect to the heart.

During a single surgical procedure, we will restore normal blood flow through your child’s heart. We'll:

  • Connect the pulmonary veins to the left side of the heart
  • Close off any abnormal connections between blood vessels
  • Close the hole (atrial septal defect) in the heart

Care & Recovery

Your child will recover in a private room in a special area of our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Here, you can stay close to your child as they receive round-the-clock care from an extensive and experienced team. See why our PICU is one of the Southeast's top referral centers for pediatric trauma, cardiac, and critical care. 

Find Support as Your Child Grows

Once we repair your child’s heart defect, you can look forward to your child having a normal active childhood, even playing sports. With a congenital heart condition, your child will need to have regular follow-up heart care. As a patient at UVA Health Children's, you'll find pediatric care enhanced by heart expertise focused on your child's individual history.

When they become an adult, they can easily transition to our Adult Congenital Heart Disease Clinic. Here, they’ll find experts who are board-certified in adult congenital heart disease.